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All-White Jury Clears Eight in Fla. Boot Camp Death

All-White Jury Clears Eight in Fla. Boot Camp Death

Published February 11, 2008

Posted Oct. 15, 2007 – Attorneys and family members of the 14-year-old boy who died after being beaten, kneed and kicked by guards at a Florida boot camp say the officers would have been convicted if there had been African Americans on the jury.

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On Friday, an all-White jury accepted the defense’s argument that Martin Lee Anderson’s death was the result of sickle-cell trait and not because seven guards beat him and shoved an ammonia capsule up his nose while a nurse watched.

"You kill a dog, you go to jail," an angry Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the family, said on the courtroom steps following the verdict. "You kill a little Black boy, nothing happens.”

Saying that having sickle-cell trait is responsible for Martin’s death is “adding insult to injury," Crump said, decrying that the fact that the jury lacked Blacks, who are more familiar the disorder.

Sickle cell occurs in one out of every 10 African Americans, according to the Illinois Department of Public Safety.

“Usually, people with sickle-cell trait do not have any medical problems and they can lead normal lives,” according to its Web site. “They do not develop sickle cell disease.”

The initial autopsy blamed sickle-cell trait for Martin’s death, but a second autopsy said the death was caused by the severe beating and because the victim was forced to breathe the ammonia while officers covered his mouth.

During the weeklong trial, the jury repeatedly watched the graphic videotape of the ordeal, which triggered outrage from Black leaders, children’s advocates and human rights activists nationwide and led to the end of Florida’s boot camps. Said Robert Anderson, Martin’s father: “There was enough evidence. It was there in Black and white. What do you need, a rocket science? I'm sick of this crap."

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Written by BET-Staff

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