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“You kill a dog, you go to jail. You kill a little black boy and nothing happens”

October 12, 2007

anderson-gallery-092407.jpg 

Image Courtesy of Associated Press

Hat Tip Court TV

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (Court TV) — A Florida jury found eight former boot camp employees not guilty of causing the death of a juvenile offender in their care.

The panel of four women and two men deliberated just 90 minutes before reaching their verdict in the trial of seven drill instructors and a nurse accused in the death of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson.

Former drill instructors Henry Dickens, Patrick Garrett, Raymond Hauck, Charles Helms Jr., Henry McFadden Jr., Charles Enfinger, Joseph Walsh and nurse Kristin Schmidt could have faced up to 30 years in prison if they had been convicted of aggravated manslaughter.

The jury was also given the option of considering lesser charges of manslaughter, child neglect and misdemeanor culpable negligence — convictions that would have carried lighter sentences.

“We were innocent all along,” McFadden said. “We knew this truth would come out.”

As Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet read the verdicts for each of the defendants, sobs from defendants’ families grew louder.

On the other side of the courtroom, Anderson’s mother, Gina Jones, shook her head, and his father, Robert Anderson, covered his face in his hands.

The case has polarized Panama City, and throughout the week-long trial demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse, chanting and carrying signs. After the verdict was read Friday, as the defendants and their lawyers spoke with the media, people drove by shouting “Murderers,” and “They know they’re guilty.”

The Anderson family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, implied that race was the deciding issue in the case, in which a black teenager died after being manhandled by a group of guards that included whites, blacks and one Asian American.

“You kill a dog, you go to jail. You kill a little black boy and nothing happens,” Crump said.

In their testimony, all eight of the defendants said they were shocked and saddened by Anderson’s death. Dickens, one of the two black drill instructors involved in the incident, said he was hurt by the insults that have been leveled at him.

“They’ve been calling me an Uncle Tom, but this was never about race,” he said. “We cared about this kid. The kids are our future. I’m not going to be around for ever. We really cared about that kid.”

Defense attorneys bristled at idea that the verdict from the jury of six whites should be written off to racism.

“Two of the defendants were African-American,” said Robert Sombathy, the attorney for Garrett. “I don’t hear the NAACP trying to make an issue out of them. Race is not an issue in this case.”

Waylon Graham, the lawyer for Helms, called the case a “political prosecution” that should never have come to trial.

“The state’s case was basically a sham,” he said. “We sent them packing back to South Florida where they belong.”

Anderson, a ninth-grader who was sent to the Bay County Sheriff’s Department Juvenile Boot Camp for stealing his grandmother’s car, was only a few hours into his stay when he allegedly participated in a mandatory run for 10 minutes, then stopped and refused to continue.

During the 30-minute altercation that ensued — captured on surveillance video that attorneys for both sides repeatedly dissected during the trial — seven guards took turns restraining Anderson against a pole, pinning him to the ground and occasionally kneeing and hitting him to gain compliance.

In the melee, Schmidt stood outside the group as guards wrestled Anderson to the ground and then attempted to rouse him by waving ammonia caps under his nose.

The camp was closed a few months after the teen’s death.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. October 12, 2007 9:18 pm

    What is there to say about this? What can we say about this? The devaluation of Black Life is routine in this country. We get, day after day, proof that our lives don’t count as much here. This is part of the bitterness that White folk just have no idea about it. They got a nanosecond of it with OJ. We’ve had it for, what, over 400 years?

  2. JoJo permalink
    October 13, 2007 12:41 pm

    Look… this ‘boot camp’ was for people with serious problems. All of these ‘people’ are animals and should be kept away from the rest of society. They cause problems and instill fear in the good, hard working and ‘normal’ people in this country. I’m not saying this kid should have been killed… so don’t get me wrong… however, most of the troubled kids will kill the innocent people for $10. So, I should feel bad because this animal received a beating? Hell no… He stole a car right? If he stole my car and I was able to be in a room with him alone, I would have done the same thing the guards did.

    I had to listen to the nonsense coming out of his mother’s mouth this morning. That they covered his mouth and made him stiff ammonia? This chick is looking for more of a payday than she already received. She received 5 million because her son was an animal and got his ass beat in a boot camp where he chose to go. Yes, he chose to go… he chose to steal the car didn’t he?

    Maybe this will show the up and coming animals that this might happen to them.

    Keep the boot camps and make them even tougher! Turn the cameras off and treat them like the animals they are!

    Again, he didn’t deserve to die… however, he did deserve to get his ass beat on a daily, if not hourly basis.

    • Tia permalink
      April 28, 2011 4:37 pm

      That was a very sick comment you just made. This kid ” Keyword is KID was 14 years old that shouldn’t of had his ass beat by ADULT GUARDS . Any ADULT that beats a kid like that period in my eyes is guilty whether you meant to cause death or not . Those kids are there for doing something wrong YES, but they are there to be rehabilitated not tortured or beat to death .

      The beating may or may not have been race based however, the beating shouldn’t have went on AT ALL , especially for just refusing to RUN, damn, maybe he felt faint. Just because he was only 14 doesn’t mean he was in good physical shape, I’d be tired after running only ten minutes too ( and no I’m not fat, I’m 5’7″ 130 pounds , I’m just not used to running for any length of time ) If a parent were to beat their child the way he was beat even without them causing death those parents would go to jail for child abuse .

    • Catina permalink
      September 25, 2013 7:27 am

      Jo jo:Who said it was one of the officers cars….either way it goes he was sent to the camp to become a better person not to be killed so maybe next time you should read twice next time just to be clear. No one deserves to die and especially not this way or at this age.

  3. October 13, 2007 1:47 pm

    Jojo:
    Would you call a 14 year old white young man from the neighborhood you grew up in an animal for stealing a car? Or is it that you don’t think 14 year old white children commit such crimes?

    So in your world a 14 year desrves to get beat down everyday for stealing a car? Because he’s an animal.

    And the fact that they used ammonia on this kid is not a problem to you?

  4. orri permalink
    October 14, 2007 3:01 am

    The United States of America has become a disfunctional state, akin to a disfunctional family. What is being called “law and order” has degenerated to allowing as many as seven or eight adult, redneck, so-called white “lawmen” strutting around in their smokey-the-bear hats and police uniforms and beating up a 14-year-old boy until he is dead– no less than FOUR of these brutes at a time, and as many as ten, against ONE 14-year-old CHILD. What heroes they must feel like. They killed a child. A 14-year-old child. I cannot repeat that enough. What cowards these rednecks are, these violence-loving, uneducated, unfeeling, bullies– these swaggering psychopaths, passing themselves off as “cops,” are. And, because they wear a uniform, the wonderful people of Florida on the jury, who were probably selected because they, too, are rednecks, probably all white trailer-trash who hate blacks, and just as mentally challenged as the killer cops are– these unfeeling crackers warped by living in the worst part of the worst state in the union: Florida. under the governorship of Jeb Bush. To anyone who is civilized, this was a crime of monumental cruelty. And the Florida state court system, with the help of their low-life jury, brought in a verdict of NOT GUILTY against these creeps. They should all be sent to jail for life, including that incompetent nurse, for MURDER, because that is just what it was. Watching that video of the death of that poor child makes me sick at my stomach, as those steroid-hyped cops ganged up on him. That poor kid died a slow death. What is this country becoming?

  5. Plantsman permalink
    October 14, 2007 1:14 pm

    I suspect jojo is a generic authoritarian sociopath who just happens to be expressing himself in a racial context.

  6. justice58 permalink
    October 15, 2007 2:50 am

    It’s an outrage! Michael Vick could face prison time for killing a dog & when it’s a 14 year old black boy being killed…NOTHING! It’s a mockery of the Justice system just as it was in the Emmett Till Case.

    God help America when a dog is more valuable than a human life. The jurors in this case clearly is a joke & should never serve on a jury again. Anyone can see from the video the child was beaten to death. It is a horrifying thing to see a child being killed before your eyes and it’s more chilling when adult jurors ignore it just because he was born a black male!

    How long will it be before our government see the injustice here…how long!

    These evil wicked murderers need to pay!

  7. Nancy permalink
    October 26, 2007 11:42 am

    no one said the child should not be punished for his actions, but when do you kill a child by preventing it from breathing while expecting the same child to walk, and why did it take seven grown men to beat up one child, its like watching national geographics, where a pack of hungry lions devour an innocent deer. They knew full well the child was lacking oxygen and he was fighting to breath, then when he was unconscious they looked at him like he was from planet mars. They had no training, just trained to kill and torture. The state allowed those boot camps to be opened and also allowed those punishment techniques to be approved by the guards, what animals they are. The holding of the mouth and nose continued for sometimes close to 5 minutes, so the child suffered tremendously, and low and behold they all got off. I wish the worst pain on those guards and the nurse. The boot camps were set up to rid the state of unwanted juveniles, because the state dont want to spend any money rehabilitating young black boys, they want to torture them to death, they held his hands while the Asian guard hold the ammonia to his mouth, who approve that punishment, ammonia is suppose to be held under your nose,not up your nose, what idiots would do that, so that means they wanted the child to die a slow tortured death and they won, then they got off, didnt you hear what many of their lawyers said? they going out and have a party and drink, its like Mississippi burning all over again. Why are people saying it was not racism in this killing because two black guards and an Asian were involved, well for your answer, they want to be piece of the action, because child killers and psychopaths comes in many colors, these men reminds me of the brutes we are, selfish, mean and just plain wicked people, how could they sleep at night knowing how they beat up and brutalize poor kids that society rob, they rob the poor inner city kids because they dont want to spend or operate programs to help them, they want to put them six feet deep, and they pay child abusers to work with the kids to carry out the bad deeds. At the guards orientation, you don’t know what they had to swear to do to these kids, in the name of approval from the state leaders that are members of the KKK gangs, so to send a child off to these hungry killing criminals is like sending your child to the slaughter. I pray every night for justice and i dont have to know what the child did, there is counseling, mentoring programs, residential programs to help trouble kids, we have many trouble kids because some children while in the womb were abused, maybe the parents used drugs or alcohol or were abused by the other partner, so when the child gives trouble outside the womb, we want a quick fix, well we can’t, the government, the state and the country should spend billions of dollars on poor kids regardless of color, but with fairness,we must call our representatives and find out what they are doing to help such kids, call and ask them if they approve these vicious boot camps and get these murderers out of a job, these guards should be working in a slaughter house, not a facility where poor unfortunate kids are sent by uninformed parents, and why are we blaming the kids when the adults themselves are not showing an example, the kids steal and the adults murder them, but we agree with the murderers.

  8. November 16, 2007 10:30 pm

    Hey JOJo,

    Maybe someone need to beat the hell out of your ass the way they beat that 14 year old kid. Punk.

  9. SmokinBonez permalink
    January 5, 2008 4:54 am

    JOJO’S a freakin Nazi…. id shoot him the 2nd i see him cause i dont like stupid ppl in my country…. fact is if 1/tenth of what was done to this kid was done to Marine corps recruits, those drill instructors would be severely punished by the military and more than likely sent to the brig (military prison). fact is this most of this country’s whites are bigots, they think they can judge a minority by the steroetypes they see on tv or hear about in rap music, without ever actually having stepped foot say in a black church and getting to know people, or stopping in a store striking up a conversation…. of course these are the same ppl that vote for a white president who’s war has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in iraq, so its really no suprise to me the outcome of this trial. white people are too lazy to educate themselves about the real world, they stay in their pretected little environements, and think they know about the world cause of the crap they see on TV…. whites will continue to cling to their power for as long as they can, the only thing you can do is find a white person and without getting caught and find a way to make their life miserable… they’d do it to you if they could without consequence

  10. ladybug permalink
    March 2, 2008 6:11 pm

    this is so stupid…
    racist bastards!
    i found this page on google, searching a true story about KKK…
    probably those bastards are descendants of KKK…

    how can they get out of such a situation without being punished.. gosh..

    where do those american people have their friggin head?

    i’m shocked! since when stealing a familiar car is such a crime?

    every kid is curious about cars… learn to drive…

    :O

    i’m out of myself

  11. Marc permalink
    March 27, 2008 11:29 am

    Sad, sad.. and this goes on everyday in Law Enforcement.

    Police Brutality…
    Who gave them the right to put a finger on you?

    I have been physically abused by the NYPD many times.
    Think about this. If I deserved to have the Police even touch my body, should I have not consequently been in Prison?
    Well, that is because I didn’t do anything and I have never been to prison.

    Reading this article I wonder what the true circumstances are behind this event. Why did these men do this to a child?
    Simple, the child verbally insulted these men and the men retaliated.
    What example does this set for other 14 year olds.. you better believe they will curse, attack and show aggression towards anyone in authority?
    It is called being DEFENSIVE.

    When these agencies learn to hire people that can use compassion as a weapon will this situation be defused. You can’t use force to control people.
    This is why our prisons are bursting.. those that resist the force are sent to live in a different society. Those that do not resist are allowed to stay.

  12. Lisa permalink
    December 5, 2008 9:14 pm

    “You kill a dog, you go to jail, you kill a little black boy and nothing happens”
    That is a stupid statement. An idiot said it I am sure.
    Animals and Humans are equal so. That statement is dumb.
    And it’s not because hes black, You people have to stop with that bullshit. It’s getting old.

    And maybe they didn’t cause his death. Maybe it was something.
    OH wait hes black they must of done it. Dumb.

  13. Anti-Socialist permalink
    December 8, 2008 12:24 pm

    You kill a dog and you DID IT, you go to jail. You kill any human and you DID IT, you go to jail or get death . Stop the bullshit. You don’t send anyone to jail without proof.

  14. Splacka permalink
    March 7, 2009 4:28 am

    Lisa. Get over what bullshit? People saying because he’s black? Pick up your damn history book sometimes and research the atrocities against Blacks in the country. Blacks have indeed been killed in this country because they are simply black and if you cannot realize it, you’re not better than the murders who committed these crimes decades ago.

    Also, what kind of insignificant worthless stupid crap is that to say maybe it was something? That is not acceptable sweetheart. That is a huge problem that goes back to over 400 years of brutality of people in this country. Get off your dame high horse and open your eyes. Nothing should be acceptable about “something” killing a child. NOTHING.

    BTW, that quote was great and it doesn’t take an idiot to understand it.

  15. MacZig6 permalink
    June 16, 2010 8:18 pm

    If 1 person that has followed this case,finds 1 damn thing about this right or an accident! You, my lost friends, are a MORON! I don’t care what race Martin was, he was a child! You can’t see a jury of six white members is a freaking joke, you really are a bigger moron then I thought! These kids are our babies, they have consequences they must face. But, as adults, we have a responsibility to help them face those consequences safely & rehabilitate them without abusive treatment! Those who walked free, your soul will suffer every time you close your eyes and until you admit what you have done and face your consequences along with the extra lie you have told to Martin’s family, your suffering goes on forever! God bless you Martin, I know you now are free and have your wings baby, you will never fear anything again & we will see you in paradise! Just in case the morons were wondering, I’m white, because we know it matters to you, get help your sick! MacZig6

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