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Boot camp guards used violence on many teens

Documents show that the guards at a Florida juvenile boot camp videotaped kicking and punching a 14-year-old boy who later died had consistently used the same techniques on other youths.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The guards at a juvenile boot camp videotaped kicking and punching a 14-year-old boy who later died had consistently used the same techniques on other youths, documents show.

Five guards and a drill instructor had frequent physical altercations with detainees, according to documents from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office boot camp obtained by The Associated Press.

Each of the men was involved in the Jan. 5 confrontation with Martin Lee Anderson. It occurred after he collapsed while exercising on his first day at the camp, and he died at a hospital the next morning.

Anderson was sent to the camp for a probation violation. The sheriff’s office has said the guards were trying to get him to participate after he became uncooperative.

A medical examiner ruled that the boy died a natural death from sickle cell trait, a usually benign blood disorder.

A second autopsy was done this week after the teen’s parents questioned those findings. A pathologist who observed the autopsy said Anderson may not have died of the blood disorder.

Coroner sticks to ruling
The medical examiner on Thursday defended his original findings.

“My conclusion, based on more than a decade of practice, is that the exertion from exercise triggered Mr. Anderson’s sickle cell trait which caused Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC), resulting in hemorrhaging,” Dr. Charles Siebert said in a statement.

In Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation, small blood clots develop throughout the bloodstream and can cause severe bleeding.

It could take weeks for a cause of death to be determined.

The five guards shown on the surveillance video were involved in at least 63 other instances using knee strikes, hammer-fist blows, ’pressure point’ restraints and other physical encounters with detainees, according to Florida Department of Juvenile reports filed in 2004 and 2005.

Guard Patrick Garrett wrote the report on the Anderson case. He said Charles Enfinger and Joseph Walsh restrained the boy against a fence after he refused to run laps.

“I ordered offender Anderson to stop resisting and relax his arms. When (he) refused to comply with those instructions, I applied a knee strike to his left thigh and escorted him to the ground,” Garrett wrote. “After reaching the ground, I applied a bent wrist to offender Anderson’s left wrist for approximately 7 seconds.”

The report of the 30-minute ordeal said guard Henry Dickens poured water on Anderson and later applied a ’pressure point’ to his head. The technique was banned by the state in 2004.

Garrett said the guards continued to “counsel” Anderson by applying knee strikes, pressure point blows and bending his wrists backward until he stopped responding.

Camp being closed
No guards have been arrested or fired. The camp no longer houses any juveniles and is being closed.

Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday defended the state’s boot camp system, noting the number of juveniles going into the adult system has dropped 42 percent during his tenure as governor.

“It’s up to the Legislature if they want to close boot camps,” Bush said. “This tragic case is something that we need to look at, investigate, prosecute if appropriate ... but it doesn’t mean that we should get rid of a policy that has yielded a good result.”