Former jail booking room captain wants job back

Published 4:15 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Former Harrison County jail booking room captain, Rick Gaston, wants his job back and the pay he lost after he was fired following a criminal indictment involving inmate abuse.

Gaston was fired March 23, after being accused of federal civil rights violations under color of law in an investigation on inmate abuse.

Gaston, who was tried with former jailer Ryan Teel, was acquitted Aug. 16 after a nine-day trial in federal court in Hattiesburg. Teel was convicted of abusing inmates.

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According to a letter from his attorney Jim Davis, Gaston wants a hearing before the Harrison County Civil Service Commission if the sheriff or jail warden don’t honor his request for immediate reinstatement

Sheriff George H. Payne Jr. did not return a phone call for comment from The Sun Herald newspaper Monday. Gaston claims he was fired without due process the afternoon he was charged in federal court.

Gaston earned $4,000 a month, according to financial documents filed in the criminal case in U.S. District Court.

Though Civil Service allows a terminated employee to appeal a decision within 15 days, Davis said Gaston was court-ordered to avoid contact with anyone involved in the Sheriff’s Department.

Gaston, 52, is a 27-year veteran of law enforcement and corrections.

The Harrison County Board of Supervisors on Monday appointed Davis to represent Gaston in pending civil lawsuits involving inmate complaints because of Gaston’s complaint of wrongful termination.