Boot Camp Beating Tape Debate Continues

Lawmakers who viewed the tape describe what they saw as “worse than Rodney King” and they want the video made public, but investigators say the tape will remain under wraps, at least for now.

Fourteen-year-old Martin Anderson died hours after beginning a program at the Bay County boot camp. Rep. Gus Barreiro is one of two lawmakers who viewed video from a surveillance camera of what he describes as a horrific beating of Anderson by sheriff’s deputies.

Rep. Gus Barriero, (R) Miami, says, "It was brutal and I hope the tape does become public because I think it’s important for the public to see this."

Authorities are furious with the lawmakers for talking about the tape. Bay County’s sheriff called them loose cannons and said their descriptions were inaccurate. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the death and has custody of the tape.

Tom Berlinger with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says, "To say we weren’t thrilled by the fact that they released the information that they did is an understatement."

But attorney Barbara Petersen with the First Amendment Foundation is equally upset at FDLE for trying to keep the tape secret.

Barbara Petersen says, “The public has a right to know what’s going on in these boot camps. There’s a lot of controversy over it. A kid was killed.”

With all the “brouhaha,” FDLE is now considering releasing the tapes.

Berlinger says, "Given the level of public interest, we feel that we may want to consider voluntarily waiving that exemption and allowing the public to see the tape."

It’s a tape that at the very least will show the last painful hours of Martin Anderson’s life. FDLE Commissioner Guy Tunnell is the former Bay County sheriff who started the boot camp where Anderson was allegedly beaten.

The agency insists that has nothing to do with keeping the video under wraps, and says it will do a fair and impartial investigation.

FDLE says it will likely be next week at the earliest before it decides whether to release the video.