Unnatural Causesposted by The Vidiot @ 2:29 PM Permalink Stop me if you've heard this one before: Guards beat a prisoner to death. The beating was caught on tape. The ME rules it 'natural causes.'
No, this wasn't Gitmo, it was a Florida punitive boot camp. And the prisoner who died was a 14 year old boy who weighed 140 pounds.
A (not so) brief time line:
On January 6th Martin Lee Anderson, who been sent to the boot camp for a parole violation, died shortly after the intake process. Anderson had been arrested in June for stealing his grandmother's car and was then sent to the boot camp for violating his probation by trespassing at a school.
The body was sent, not to the hospital's morgue where he died, but to a neighboring county's hospital morgue:
Well, OK then, it's not uncommon, but it had never before happened in his experience.
Before he issued a controversial autopsy report on Martin Lee Anderson, Bay County's chief medical examiner said it was ''highly unusual'' that the local sheriff requested him to perform the procedure in the first place because the death did not occur in his county, according to a state report.
[Benjamin Crump, lawyer for Martin's family] said Martin should have had an autopsy in Escambia County, where he died at Pensacola's Sacred Heart Hospital. The family is also concerned about ties between the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the sheriff's office. FDLE Commissioner Guy Tunnell was Bay's sheriff and founded the boot camp. An FDLE spokesman said it's conducting a fair probe.
Jeff Martin, chief investigator for Escambia's medical examiner, said his agency didn't perform Martin's autopsy ''as a courtesy'' to its Bay counterparts and FDLE. [Ed: If I die in this county, please don't do me any courtesies.]
''It's not uncommon to change jurisdiction,'' said Martin, but noted that in his two years in the office he had never seen such a request.
But wait, there's more:
The report, released Thursday, said 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson didn't die because he was beaten by guards. Instead, strenuous exercise triggered an unusual blood reaction because of his sickle cell trait, said medical examiner Charles F. Siebert Jr.
From the same article:
Then it became known that a videotape of the induction was made. So the state did the right thing and released it, right? Sadly, No!*
Siebert's report created a storm of controversy. Some of Florida's best-known sickle-cell specialists said it couldn't happen. Unlike sickle cell anemia, which causes crippling pain and other health problems, sickle cell trait is silent, they said.
"In 30 years of taking care of children with sickle cell disease, I never, ever heard of anybody dying from sickle cell trait," said Dr. Jerry Barbosa, medical director of pediatric hematology oncology at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.
Martin's final moments at the Bay Boot Camp, contained on a grainy 30-minute videotape, were played on televisions throughout the nation Friday after state investigators released the video in settlement of a public records lawsuit filed by the Miami Herald and CNN.
Let's go to the tape, but I warn you it is not suitable for viewing for those with sensitive stomachs, (and it is a 3.8 MB file in WMV format.) I had to turn it off several times, and I really don't want to imagine how his Mom felt:
For more than a month, his mother pleaded with authorities to show her what happened to her son. But when Gina Jones saw the video for the first time Friday, she had to turn away.
A description from the NYT is somewhat less disturbing:
A teenager who died a day after entering a juvenile-detention boot camp was kneed and hit by guards while being restrained the day before his death, a videotape released Friday showed.[...]
Martin, who entered the camp Jan. 5 because of a probation violation, complained of difficulty in breathing and collapsed during exercises that were part of the entry process. He died the next day at a hospital.
The Bay County Sheriff's Department, which runs the camp, said Martin was restrained after he became uncooperative.[Ed: Collapsing is uncooperative!?]
On the surveillance videotape, which lasts 80 minutes and has no sound, as many as nine guards can be seen restraining Martin. Guards kneed him and wrestled him to the ground, where he was repeatedly hit by one guard. He was limp throughout most of the videotape.
The videotape shows that a woman in a white coat was present while the guards restrained Martin and at one point used a stethoscope to check him. Near the end of the confrontation, guards appeared to become more concerned, and several began running in and out of the scene. Emergency medical personnel later arrived and took the boy away.
And the WaPo:
The boy appeared limp for most of the ordeal and never appeared to offer significant resistance. While he lay motionless on the ground, a guard struck him several times, either on his arm or torso.
At one point, a guard struck him from behind, lifting his feet off the ground. At the beginning, as the guards are pinning him against a pole, they struck him three times with their knees.
But now that the tape is out and we all have seen the outrageous conduct, of course Jeb Bush will do the right thing? Sadly, No!*
ONE tragic 'accident!?'
Bush said he continues to support the boot camp concept.
"I don't believe we should shut down every boot camp because of one tragic accident," he said.
Meanwhile, Department of Juvenile Justice officials were grilled Wednesday by a House committee looking for answers on the recent rash of deaths in Florida boot camps. Three teenagers have died in state custody in the past three years
What the hell is wrong with our country that we torture and kill adults and children? That our government even attempts to justify these acts shames all of us. We not only justify these practices against 'illegal combatants', a fictional term invented by Bushco that appears nowhere in the Geneva Conventions or the UN Treaty Against Torture, we use them at home, against children.
* Please don't confuse these references with the great blog Sadly, No!