As of today, no charges have been filed against the Bay County officials responsible for the death of Martin Lee Anderson, but attorney Benjamin Crump said they are forthcoming in a few weeks.
Crump asked Gov. Jeb Bush to hold the Bay County officials accountable for Anderson’s death and the cover-up after his death.
“There are some that think after a certain amount of time our community will forget,” Crump said. “His family is willing to do whatever to get justice for their son’s life.”
Since Anderson’s death, state military-style boot camps have been closed and replaced with a program run by the Sheriff’s Training and Respect program. The bill that enacted the STAR program was renamed the Martin Lee Anderson Act by the legislature. Bush signed the bill into law June 1.
Student Body Vice President Monique Gillum, 20, a third-year political science student from Gainesville, said the STAR program is a lot a like the boot camp.
“There should be more prevention, education and counseling for the children in the program so they can learn to be productive citizens,” Gillium said.
Anderson died at the age of 14 on Jan. 6 in Panama City. Anderson was sentenced to a Bay County Sheriff’s boot camp for six months for joyriding in his grandmother’s car without her permission.
During the boot camp’s routine military-style exercises, Anderson became exhausted and collapsed.
The Miami Herald and CNN filed public records lawsuits which led to the release of a 30-minute video tape. On the video tape, guards can be seen kicking and punching Anderson repeatedly.
There were two autopsies done on Anderson’s body. Bay County Medical Examiner Charles F. Siebert performed the first autopsy.
Siebert ruled that Anderson died from complications from sickle cell trait. The Anderson family attorney Crump said Siebert is on probation, but trying to appeal the courts decision.
On May 6, details from the second autopsy were released, announcing Anderson did not die from natural causes. Instead, Anderson suffocated from being exposed to ammonia inhalant fumes.
On the released tape, the guards are seen trying to revive the teen by putting the capsules in his face. The ammonia fumes caused a restriction to his airway, which caused his death.
Florida A&M University students and others participated in a sit-in at Gov. Bush’s waiting room April 19 and 20. Students were asking for arrests to be made to the officials who beat Anderson.
“The sit-in was effective because it drew attention to the cause, and the governor couldn’t overlook what was going on in the black community,” said Student Body President Philip Agnew, 21, a fourth-year business administration student from Chicago.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Guy Tunnell resigned April 21. Tunnell opened the boot camp where Anderson was beaten.
There was controversy over Tunnell and his actions. He sent e-mails to Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen detailing agency’s effort to withhold the video tape of Anderson’s beating from the media.
The day Tunnell resigned, there were more than 3,000 protesters that attended a rally outside the Florida Capitol. Also in attendance at the capitol were Crump, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. They asked for the arrest of guards and for changes in the state correctional system.
Anderson’s parents offered to settle the case for $3 million, but McKeithen refused the offer, stating it was too early to settle with the investigation not complete.
“It’s on video tape, what more evidence do you need.” Crump says.