"I finally get to tell my side of the story,” said Jeff Heath.
Former beach police officer Jeff Heath was fired in May after an internal investigation claimed he was insubordinate and disobeyed orders not to speak about a former female beach officer who accused him of groping her in 2007.
"He was told to stop talking about, dealing with, or contacting a former Panama City Beach police officer but he couldn't do it,” said PCB Attorney Rob Jackson.
The alleged groping happened while Heath and a number of co-workers and friends were bar-hopping on the beach.
A female officer in the group claims Heath forced his self on her, grabbing and putting his hands on her chest and down her pants.
Heath says it didn’t happen.
The female officer reported the incident to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement but did not want to file a formal complaint and the accusations were never substantiated.
Former Police Chief Robert Harding says he told Heath to stay away from the female officer and not to talk about her anymore.
"Not only as Jeff's supervisor but as Jeff's friend I chose to do it this way, just a direct letter to him,” said Harding.
The internal investigation stated that Heath spoke to other officers about her 147 times over the next four years.
When word got back to her, she filed a formal complaint with the beach police in March.
Heath’s attorney says no one formally ordered him to be quiet.
"What we have is a witch hunt. In four months a career spanning 17 years is completely gone down the tubes."
He says he only talked about the incident because the female officer was lying about him.
"She constantly, constantly said they she was going to sue me, and sue the department. So whenever it was brought up I not only defended me, I defended the department as well," said Jeff Heath.
After nearly 12 hours of testimony, the board decided to reinstate Heath.
"For four years it's been a long time coming. I finally get to tell my side of the story," said Heath.
Heath will return to work immediately with a demotion from Lieutenant to Sergeant. He will not receive back pay for the 30 days he was fired.