Officials not above law

After former Gov. Jeb Bush did basically nothing after the controversial death of Martin Lee Anderson, the 14-year-old boy who died at a juvenile boot camp in Bay County on Jan. 6, 2006, current Gov. Charlie Crist has proposed a $5 million dollar settlement by the State of Florida to be paid to the Anderson family.

The proposal also allows the Andersons to pursue another $5 million from Bay County.

The recommendation still has to be passed by the Florida Legislature, but $10 million is nowhere near the $40 million for which the Andersons originally filed.

A price tag can’t be put on the loss of a life, but the state needs to ante up more than $10 million.

The Anderson family has lost a child because of the negligence of the Department of Juvenile Justice, which happened to be captured on videotape.

And to add insult to injury, the department tried to hide the evidence of its neglect through a false autopsy only discovered after the Anderson family exhumed Martin’s body and had another autopsy done.

A message needs to be sent to all correctional facilities throughout Florida and the nation that excessive physical abuse against inmates, especially minors, will not be tolerated. And that there will be severe punishment for anyone found guilty of such appalling crimes.

Arrests were not made in the case until Nov. 28, 2006 when seven guards and a nurse were charged with manslaughter.

But no criminal charges have been brought against any public official.

So much controversy has surrounded this case. From the incompetent findings in the first autopsy done by Bay County Medical Examiner Charlie F. Siebert Jr., who concluded that Anderson died of complications from the sickle cell trait, to the buddy-buddy relationship between Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen and former sheriff and current FDLE Commissioner Guy Tunnell, who opened the facility and tried to withhold the videotape of the beating.

How come examples aren’t made of law enforcement officials who commit crimes and think they are above the law?

Something is wrong with this picture.

Ray Jenifer for the Editorial Board.