More information on Martin Lee Anderson's death
and what the professionals are saying (and not saying) ...
Autopsy conclusion `not plausible'
Experts have questioned the autopsy report that concluded 14-year-old
Martin Lee Anderson died of natural causes while in state custody.
By JACOB GOLDSTEIN
In his autopsy report, Bay County's medical examiner concluded that the
14-year-old who died after an altercation with guards was killed by
complications of sickle cell trait.
But as the controversy over Martin Lee Anderson's death mounted Friday,
medical experts questioned the report's conclusion that the teen died of
''natural causes,'' which they said failed to explain his internal
''That report is not plausible at all,'' said Dr. Kenneth Bridges,
former head of the Center for Sickle Cell and Thalassemic Disorders in
Boston and a former associate professor at Harvard Medical
........."It's laughable," said Dr.
Jerry Barbosa, medical director of hematology at All Children's Hospital
in St. Petersburg. "His conclusions are just out of touch with medical
reality." In releasing the tape, the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement said it had "substantially" completed its criminal
investigation and had turned over information to state and federal
.......In fact, before the videotape
raised questions, camp officials had offered only two misleading
sentences by way of reporting Anderson's death: "During physical
training, youth M.A. passed out on the ground and was unresponsive to
staff. 911 was immediately notified.".......
........McKeithen, criticized by
black legislators who say he is showing more concern for protecting the
actions of boot camp officials than for Anderson's family, refused to
answer questions about what changes he has implemented.
His office released a memo, dated Jan. 6, ordering boot camp officials
to ''immediately stop the use of'' ammonia capsules -- apparently used
in the incident with Martin -- ``for any purpose other than emergency
situations, such as attempting to revive a person who has obviously
Camp guards were allowed to use ''chemical agents'' and ''deadly force''
to subdue teens. No more. The sheriff's office also released a memo,
written a week after Martin's death, forbidding the use of ''knee
strikes and hammer strikes,'' referring to the punches to the arm seen
several times on the video, ``unless it is for self-defense.''.........
After viewing the video, medical examiner Charles Siebert said he did
not consider the restraint measures used to be excessive.
"None of the physical contact I observed could have caused his death,"
he said. He added that his examination of the body found no evidence of
any blunt force trauma or bruising.
"The damage to his internal organs
wasn't caused from this alleged sickle cell trait," said Benjamin Crump,
a Tallahassee lawyer who represents the family. "He (the medical
examiner) doesn't want to address the issue of internal bleeding. . . .
What caused this internal bleeding?"
State Rep. Gus Barreiro, a boot camp critic and one of two lawmakers who
saw the video last week, also said Siebert's conclusions were baffling.
"Either he didn't see the same tape I did or he's trying to cover this
up," the Miami Beach Republican said.
"His response is questionable at best," Barreiro said. "This young man
could have died from internal bleeding, but what caused it? I think it
was the amount of strain and abuse he was put under."
U.S. Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat who called for a federal
study of boot camps, issued a statement Thursday encouraging the
Department of Justice.
"This investigation should be the beginning of a serious, aggressive,
and comprehensive effort by federal agencies and the Congress to make
sure that children are totally safe when they are sent - either by the
state or by their parents - to residential programs."
Siebert's report created a storm of
controversy. Some of Florida's best-known sickle-cell specialists said
it couldn't happen. Unlike sickle cell anemia, which causes crippling
pain and other health problems, sickle cell trait is silent, they said.
"In 30 years of taking care of children with sickle cell disease, I
never, ever heard of anybody dying from sickle cell trait," said Dr.
Jerry Barbosa, medical director of pediatric hematology oncology at All
Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.
Barbosa called the report "totally preposterous, out of context and very
But other doctors said there are documented cases of people with sickle
cell trait dying suddenly during exercise.
Tape Released Showing Teen Beaten at
Video Shows Guards Restraining and Punching Boy
Watch the video, click on the link:
(Then click on link under photo on right)