Florida Family to Get $5 Million in Boot-Camp Death Settlement

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has requested a $5 million settlement be paid to the parents of Martin Anderson, a 14-year-old who died at a Panama City boot camp last year, allegedly due to injuries sustained at the hands of the facility’s guards. Crist’s proposal, which needs to be approved by the state legislature, came only hours after State Attorney Mark Ober released a mountain of incriminating evidence to the public.

The state payout would settle only a portion of the civil suit being brought by Robert Anderson and Gina Jones. The family is still seeking a similar financial settlement from Bay County in federal court. There’s also the matter of the criminal trial, in which seven guards and the camp nurse each pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter. In response to the controversy, the state shut down its juvenile boot-camp system and accepted the resignation of the director of its Department of Law Enforcement.

Before the governor’s announcement, Ober’s State Attorney office released more than 20,000 pages of documents related to the boy’s death, along with an enhanced video that, according to prosecutors, details the physically abusive behavior by the guards that led to the teen’s death. After collapsing during a run on January 5 of last year, Anderson was beaten, kicked, and tackled repeatedly by the guards, who used a number of “pain compliance” techniques. He was forced to inhale ammonia after going limp. The episode lasted 22 minutes, said prosecutors, after which Anderson was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died.

The first autopsy performed on Anderson claimed his death was the result of a previously unidentified sickle-cell trait. However, a second autopsy found that the boy was suffocated. Anderson had been at the boot camp for only a matter of hours sent there for stealing his grandmother’s car from the church parking lot.

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