5 Year Anniversary of Martin Lee Anderson's Death

It was five years ago today (1-06) that 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson died. His death followed a brutal beating by guards at the Bay County Boot Camp just the day before.

Image from video released Wednesday, March 14, 2007, by the Florida State Attorney's Office in Tampa, Fla., shows boot camp guards manhandling 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson, who later died. (AP)

Updated 1/6 6:20pm

The legal battle involving the family of Martin Lee Anderson is almost over.

The 14 year old died soon after he was beaten by guards at a Panama City boot camp.

But, the emotional scars on the family remain five years later.

"This day is always an especially difficult day for Martin Lee Anderson's family." Said Anderson's Family Attorney Benjamin Crump.

On January 6, 2006, 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson died.

Videotape shows seven guards at the Bay County Boot Camp in Panama City, Florida kneeing, kicking, and hitting him the day before.

Crump said, "No one that you talk to, even though it's been five years since the tragedy, isn't just frozen in contemplation of a life lost at such a young age and what that life could've become."

A medical examiner said Anderson died of Sickle Cell trait.

But, a second autopsy revealed the teenager did not die from natural causes.

In 2007, the guards and a nurse standing nearby watching the beating were all acquitted of manslaughter.

Crump says the small victories in Anderson's death are how the community came together; including young people like Michael White who was in high school in Sarasota in 2006.

White said, "At my school, they made us stay abreast of the case and know what's going on. At the time, that was five years ago, he was around the same age I was. So, it really affected me and a lot of other young black people around me."

The community togetherness was displayed through several marches and rallies over the past five years.

FAMU Student Erick Ramsey said, "Only through unity that we can go through this. People just ask why too much. i just feel like we need to start asking when. We need to start making decisions on how we're going to improve as a community."

In May 2007, Anderson's family received a $5 million settlement from the state of Florida.

That Bay County Boot Camp is closed and the land and facility now belongs to Bay County.

The following is a list of other changes provided by The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice:

· The Legislature closed all DJJ boot camps.

· Protective Action Response, which governs the use of verbal and physical intervention techniques, was written into statute (section 985.645, F.S.).

· The use of chemical agents and/or ammonia capsules are specifically prohibit unless required for medical treatment by a licensed medical professional.

· Medical and mental health screening was modified to specify “Sickle Cell Disease” separately from “Sickle Cell Trait,” and the medical records of every youth with a history of sickle cell trait or sickle cell disease who is referred to a DJJ facility are reviewed by the DJJ Office of Health Services for appropriate medical placement.

· Youths with sickle cell trait and sickle cell disease are prohibited from intensive exercise in all DJJ programs.

· The Office of Health Services reviews incidents reported to the DJJ Central Communications Center which involve youth injury or illness.

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The attorney for the family of the 14-year-old boy who died after a beating at a Panama City boot camp says the federal investigation is still ongoing. The pain, he says, hurts even now, five years later.

It was five years ago Thursday that 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson died. His death followed a brutal beating by guards at the Bay County Boot Camp just the day before.

Videotape of the January 5th, 2006 beating showed guards kneeing, kicking, and beating Anderson.

A medical examiner originally said the teenager died of Sickle Cell trait, but after Anderson's body was exhumed, a second autopsy revealed he did not die of natural causes.

Anderson's family attorney, Benjamin Crump, says the boy's parents will never forget what happened.

"Nobody was ever held accountable for the death of their son. It's one of those things even though five years have passed, every time this time of year comes around, it seems like it was yesterday," Crump said.

Seven guards and a nurse who stood by, seen in the videotaped incident, were all acquitted of manslaughter back in October 2007.

In May of 2007, Anderson's parents received a $5 million settlement from the State of Florida, but Crump said there is nothing that can replace their son.


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