Boot Camp Guards found Not Guilty
Posted by shadmia on October 14, 2007
Martin Lee Anderson, 14, died at a Florida boot camp for juveniles on Jan. 6th 2006. He died one day after being hit, kicked, dragged around and forced to inhale ammonia capsules. All of this was captured on video. There were 7 guards and a nurse involved in the incident. All 8 were arrested and charged with manslaughter in the death of the 14-year-old. On Oct. 12 2007 (1 year and 9 months later) the jury, after 90 minutes of deliberation, found all the defendants NOT GUILTY.
On the surface, there seems to be a miscarriage of justice. There is a dead teenager who died after being roughed up by guards while a nurse looks on and does nothing…….and no-one is to blame!!
The teenager was Black and had undiagnosed sickle cell trait. There were two autopsies performed. The first one conducted by Bay County Medical Examiner Charles F. Siebert found that Anderson died of natural causes from sickle cell trait. The second one conducted by the coroner of Hillsborough County, Dr. Vernard Adams came to a very different conclusion.
1) Martin Anderson had sickle cell trait.
2) The repeated blows to Martin Anderson’s limbs and the gripping of his limbs left several bruises but did not contribute to his death. In other words, he was not beaten to death.
3) Martin Anderson’s death was caused by suffocation due to actions of the guards at the boot camp. The suffocation was caused by manual occlusion of the mouth, in concert with forced inhalation of ammonia fumes that caused spasm of the vocal cords resulting in internal blockage of the upper airway.
After the not guilty verdict by an all white jury (see video here) students from Florida A & M University, Florida State University, and Tallahassee Community College united in protest of that verdict ( see video here) shouting “Justice delayed…Justice denied!” Their message echoed loud and clear throughout Florida’s capital city. In fact, protesters blocked traffic from one of Tallahassee’s busiest intersections during Friday rush hour.
“The US Constitution allows individuals to protest and peaceably assemble…and that’s what these students are doing,” said Tallahassee Mayor John Marks.
Some lawmakers also expressed their shock and disappointment at the verdict:
“We were stunned. It is hard to believe in this day and time,” Tallahassee Sen. Al Lawson shouted into a bullhorn to some 250 student protesters who converged on the Capitol to shout “No Justice! No Peace!” “Everyone’s in shock, because this is 2007, and in 2007, African-Americans still have a problem with justice in this country,” Lawson told them.
“The Martin Lee Anderson is a tragic episode in Florida’s history. It’s an understatement to say it’s not one of our proudest moments,” said House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami.
“It is a sad day in the state of Florida. Martin Lee Anderson did not receive justice, and I am livid,” said Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens. She said the verdict jeopardizes the safety of young blacks throughout Florida.
“It is open season on black children for Florida, from this day forward,” Wilson warned protesters. Wilson said the trial was conducted in an atmosphere of racism. “I’m surprised they didn’t have nooses outside the courthouse,” she said. “This is the Florida of yesterday.”
Officials from the US Department of Justice announced they have launched an investigation. The state of Florida has since closed down all its boot camp facilities. The following video looks at the effectiveness of boot camps in general and was recorded before the Martin Lee Anderson death.