Seven former juvenile boot camp guards and a nurse have been charged with aggravated manslaughter in the death of a boy whose rough handling by the guards was videotaped, a special prosecutor said Tuesday.
Martin Lee Anderson, 13, collapsed on the exercise yard at the Bay County sheriff’s camp in Panama City on Jan. 5. Guards said he was uncooperative and refused to continue participating in exercises that were part of the camp’s intake processes.
He died early the next morning in Pensacola.
Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Anderson’s parents, was in Panama City with the family Tuesday and didn’t immediately return a call for comment.
The boy’s death sparked protests in the state capital, the elimination of the military-style boot camp system and the resignation of the state’s top law enforcement officer.
An initial autopsy by medical examiner Dr. Charles Siebert found Anderson died of complications of sickle cell trait, a usually benign blood disorder.
A second autopsy by Dr. Vernard Adams, the medical examiner for Hillsborough County, found Anderson’s death was caused by suffocation due to the actions of the guards.
He said the suffocation was caused by hands blocking the boy’s mouth, as well as the “forced inhalation of ammonia fumes” that caused his vocal cords to spasm, blocking Anderson’s upper airway.
The guards had said in an incident report that they used ammonia capsules five times on Anderson to gain his cooperation.
Siebert has consistently stood by his findings.