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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Boy's family wants boot camp video made public

Associated Press

PANAMA CITY - Martin Lee Anderson played basketball and hung out with other kids in this hardscrabble neighborhood of barred windows and attack dogs that surrounds the cemetery where he was buried last month.

He made the honor roll last year and had not been in serious trouble before he and four cousins were arrested last June for taking their grandmother's Jeep Cherokee from a church parking lot and crashing it.

Although 14-year-old Anderson wasn't the driver, he was charged with grand theft. Other problems followed, including suspension from school and an arrest for trespassing.

On Jan. 5, he was admitted to the Bay County Sheriff's Office Boot Camp. Two South Florida legislators who have seen a video tape of his last conscious moments say he was brutally beaten by guards who kicked and punched him.

Anderson's death has led some state leaders to demand changes at Florida's military-style boot camps.

Rep. Gus Barreiro, R-Miami Beach, who viewed the video last week said it shows a brutal beating.

"Even toward the end of the videotape, where you could just see there was pretty much nothing left of Martin, they came out with a couple of cups of water and splashed him in the face," Barreiro said.

"When you see stuff like that you just want to go through the TV and say, 'Enough is enough. Please stop hitting this kid,' " he said.

Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, a former federal prosecutor, also expressed outrage after viewing the tape, and said he did not think there was any question that excessive force was used.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has said Barreiro and Gelber were allowed to view the tape because they serve on the Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee. Several members of Gov. Jeb Bush's staff also were allowed to view the tape.

But Anderson's parents, Gina Jones and Robert Anderson, have not been allowed to see the last conscious moments of their son's life.

"No human being on this earth should go through what my son went though. I just wish they could have done me like that instead of it being him," Robert Anderson said.

Anderson's family wants the video of his admission to the camp made public, but FDLE has refused to release the tape, saying it is part of the ongoing investigation.

Jones recalled dropping her son off at the camp, when he said he would do whatever it took to succeed.

She said she will always regret promising him as they parted that things would be OK for the next six months.

"What was my baby thinking when he was down on the ground and they were doing those things to him? Was he thinking that 'My mom said it would be OK' when they had their knees in his back?" Jones said.

She said doctors told her that her son's kidneys and liver were too badly damaged from what happened to him at the camp to be donated.

The Bay County Sheriff's Office Boot Camp


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