Posted Oct. 4, 2007 -- Remember the Black 14-year-old boy whose beating death at a Florida boot camp was caught on tape? Well, the seven guards and a nurse accused of causing his death went before a judge Wednesday to face charges of aggravated manslaughter– which can carry a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.
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The videotape shows five White guards and two Black guards punching and kneeing the teen, Martin Lee Anderson, who collapses as a nurse watched with her hands on her hips.
In the videotape, you can also see the guards also pushing an ammonia capsule up his nose while covering his mouth.
The prosecutor says that the staff made bad matters worse by failing to seek quick outside medical attention once Martin fell unconscious.
“This was no accident. This was a child who was killed,” Pam Bondi, the prosecutor, said in court.
Anderson died the next morning at a Pensacola hospital.
Former guards, Henry Dickens, Charles Enfinger, Patrick Garrett, Raymond Hauck, Charles Helms Jr., Henry McFadden Jr. and Joseph Walsh II, and a former nurse Kristin Schmidt, all face charges in the incident.
Anderson’s family already have received $5 million from the state in a settlement, and the boot camps in Florida have gone through a major overhaul because of Anderson’s death.
But the all-White jury chosen to hear the case leaves Anderson’s family members and civil rights groups questioning whether justice will actually be served.
“Will an all-White jury convict?" asks Benjamin Crump, the Anderson family attorney, The Tampa Tribune reports. He added that the parents "would be very surprised if we get what we feel will be a fair verdict."
On the other side, the defense claims a sickle-cell trait, not the beating, is why Anderson died.
The first autopsy, by a local medical examiner, actually supported that theory, saying that Anderson’s death was because of complications from the disorder, according to The Associated Press.
But after taking heat from an angry public, a special prosecutor ordered another autopsy by different doctor, reports the AP.
That doctor found that the guards suffocated Anderson by covering his mouth and nose and forcing him to breathe in ammonia, reports the AP.
Anderson was in boot camp because he violated probation. The incident happened his first day, according to the Tampa Tribune.