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Feds Decline to Pursue Charges in Florida Boot Camp Death

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on April 16, 2010 that it will not pursue civil rights violations or other charges against seven Florida boot camp guards and a nurse in connection with the death of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson.

The events leading to Martin’s January 6, 2006 death were caught on a 30-minute videotape. The footage showed Martin collapsing after rigorous exercise, and the guards punching and striking him with their knees. To revive him, they jammed ammonia tablets in his nose and dragged his limp body around the yard. A nurse looked on but failed to intervene. [See: PLN, Dec. 2006, p.26; July 2006, p.9].

“What did they want, 45 minutes more [of videotape], another hour?” said Ben Crump, the attorney representing Martin’s parents. “This was one time we had such hope, such faith.”

The family was told of the decision not to pursue charges during a long emotional meeting with federal prosecutors, who began looking into the case following the October 12, 2007 acquittal of the seven guards and nurse on state manslaughter charges. [See: PLN, June 2008, p.20; July 2007, p.11].

Martin’s family received a total of $7.4 million from the state and Bay County to settle civil lawsuits. Following Martin’s death, Florida shuttered its boot camp program statewide. The failure to obtain convictions against the boot camp employees is the norm for such incidents in Florida, which has a lengthy history of abuse in the state’s juvenile facilities. [See: PLN, March 2009, p.22].

Source: Associated Press

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