5 8 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Nearly two years after protesters broke into Y-12 and vandalized the plant, the security officer fired following that incident is sharing his story.

Kirk Garland was the first to spot the three protesters that broke into the facility on July 28, 2012.

"Apparently there had been some alarms in that area that had been cleared by a supervisor," he said. "I just pulled up, not expecting anything to be there. They just simply said, 'Can you go over there and see if maintenance is in the area or what?' And as I pulled up they rounded the west side of the building."

The trio, who called themselves the "Transform Now Plowshares," were there to protest nuclear weapons.

Garland said he worked for Wackenhut Services, which provided security at Y-12, for about 30 years total.

On that day in 2012, he said he had the situation under control as he called for back-up, and made contact with the group. When his colleagues arrived, they arrested the protesters.

"I used my training and I handled them the way the threat was supposed to be handled."

Although some have suggested it, Garland said the threat did not require the use of deadly force.

"I'm not saying that an elderly lady can't kill you, but she was 82," he said, referring to the nun who broke in, Megan Rice. "And one man was 58 and the other man was 63."

"There have sure been a lot of [armchair] quarterbacks out there," he added. "You can't just shoot somebody because they got in. There's a protocol that has to take place before you use deadly force, and that protocol was not there."

Garland said his supervisors were complementary of his work at first.

"Then 10 days later, they're pulling me in and firing me over the situation," he said.

Garland feels he was used as a scapegoat for security issues that existed at the plant prior to the break-in. He points to an Inspector General's report that came out a few days after his termination, stating the complex had problems related to alarms and other security equipment.

"I stopped their actions and I arrested them and detained them until my backup got there and I testified against them in court and now they're in prison," he said. "I don't understand what more they would want."

Garland said, if faced with the situation again, his actions wouldn't change.

"I wouldn't do anything different. I did everything the way I was trained to do."

However, he's adamant he shouldn't have been fired in the first place, and is now asking for back pay. An arbitrator will make that decision sometime this summer.

10News was unable to reach anyone from Wackenhut Services/G4S Tuesday for comment.

His life has changed dramatically since losing the $85,000 per year security job. Unable to keep up with the bills tied to that lifestyle, Garland lost his home and his car. He and his family also lost their insurance at a time where both he and his wife battle health issues.

They've moved into a rental property, and Garland took a job with the Morgan County corrections system. Although he took a huge pay cut, Garland said he's grateful for the income.

"I have a job and I'm thankful for that," he said. "And I have insurance-- that's the main thing to me."

5 8 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.wbir.com/story/news/local/2014/05/27/fire-y-12-security-officer-tells-his-side-of-the-story/9653297/