Panelists who said they still want justice for Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old boy who died in a Panama City juvenile boot camp, voiced their concerns Wednesday.
Guests mentioned new facts about the case and with a plea to the younger generation to stand for justice. Panel members included the Anderson family’s attorney Benjamin Crump, of Parks and Crump LLC, Criminal Investigator Ulysses Jenkins, and Case Consultant Cassandra Jenkins.
Anderson died Jan. 6, 2006 from what many suspect was a 30-minute alleged altercation with guards. Anderson suffered bruises and internal bleeding that ultimately led to his death.
The alleged beating of Anderson was caught on a surveillance camera.
On October 2007, all eight defendants were found not guilty. It was decided that Anderson died of natural causes.
Prior to Anderson’s death, he was sentenced to boot camp for stealing his grandmother’s car. Jenkins said standard training establishes guidelines for law enforcement across the state.
“The job of law enforcement is to protect,” Jenkins said. “They should be responsible and know what they are doing.”
According to case investigators, Anderson stopped breathing less than three hours after entering the camp. The officers thought Anderson was faking, so they put five ammonia tablets up to his nose and closed his mouth.
Crump said everyone deserves equal justice under the law.
“The laws don’t favor protecting young people,” Crump said. “Without students, there would be no justice for Martin Lee Anderson.”
Ariel Bedford, 26, a junior chemical engineering student at Florida State University said some students accessed clips of the Anderson tape before it was aired. The clips were posted on social media sites like Facebook and MySpace.
“I was outraged by what happened, so I got involved,” Bedford said.
Crump said proper protocol was not taken in Anderson’s case, which may have led to the jury’s conclusion.
“Normally an autopsy is performed at the place of death, but the Sheriff called and said he wanted his medical examiner to perform this autopsy,” Crump said. “It was concluded that Anderson was bleeding internally because of his Sickle Cell [Anemia], not the beatings.”
Jenkins said the military stopped using physical punishment, which raised the question of why they were using harsh punishments in a military style boot camp.
Bedford said he realized the unjust circumstances and decided to be pro-active while the trial was going on.
“It was a 48-hour process, but me and other students held sit-ins and marched on behalf of Anderson,” Bedford said.