Local woman says son told her ‘they killed that boy’
A Tallahassee mother said Tuesday her 14-year-old son was in juvenile boot camp with Martin Lee Anderson, and he described what guards did to Anderson as “murder.”
That revelation came the same day Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen announced he would close the county’s boot camp where guards struck 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson.
“I feel really bad for this lady and every other child that doesn’t deserve this type of treatment,” said Shauna Manning, referring to Anderson’s mother, Gina Jones. “That’s why I’m here, to speak out on behalf of her child.”
The Panama City teenager died Jan. 6, a day after the incident.
A video by guards shows Anderson being pulled out from a running drill by guards. For more than 20 minutes, guards restrained him, striking him on his arm and torso and with their knees.
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District Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Siebert said the boy died from internal bleeding caused by a genetic blood disorder and not from the blows delivered by the guards. Anderson’s parents think the guards’ actions killed their son.
Rep. Curtis Richardson, D-Tallahassee, has called for a moratorium on all Florida juvenile boot camps until they have uniform standards. He also said if Anderson’s parents sue the state, he will file a claims bill with the Legislature for what the balance of the settlement would be above the sovereign immunity cap limit of $200,000.
Sheriff McKeithen, whose department manages the boot camp for the state, gave a 90-day notice that it would close the camp. In a letter faxed Tuesday to Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Anthony Schembri, he wrote that the program has had some positive results on a number of young adults and that the boot camp is a good idea, “however, I believe the integrity of the boot camp in Bay County has been compromised, leaving the effectiveness of this program virtually paralyzed.”
Anderson was arrested in June for stealing his grandmother’s Jeep Cherokee and sent to the boot camp for violating his probation by trespassing at a school.
Manning visited her son, Aaron Swartz, at the Bay County boot camp three days after Anderson’s incident with the guards, she said Tuesday in the law office of Tallahassee attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents Anderson’s family.
“He said they killed that boy,” Manning said.
She said her son told her guards had pegged Anderson for a troublemaker when he first arrived at the camp because he wore braids. The day the incident occurred, Anderson was being cooperative and had run 15 laps of the 16-lap run he was required to do, until he began having breathing problems.
The guards then confronted Anderson, Manning said her son told her, and began hitting him.
Manning’s son was later transferred to another boot camp.
The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into a possible civil-rights violation, and state legislators called for an independent investigation.
Anderson’s parents said their son didn’t deserve to die.
“I hope everyone who touched my child gets what they deserve,” said Anderson’s father, Robert Anderson.