TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A videotape shows guards brutally beating a boy at a military-style boot camp for juvenile delinquents not long before the teenager died, two lawmakers said Thursday.
Martin Lee Anderson, 14, died Jan. 6 at a Pensacola hospital, a day after he entered the camp because of an arrest for theft.
Anderson complained of breathing difficulties and collapsed during exercises that were part of the entry process at the camp, which was run by the Bay County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities have said he had to be restrained when he became uncooperative during the workout.
State Rep. Gus Barreiro, a Republican, called the videotape "horrific," saying he had "never seen any kid being brutalized ... the way I saw this young man being brutalized."
"Even towards the end of the videotape, where you could just see there was pretty much nothing left of Martin, they came out with a couple cups of water and splashed him in the face," he said. "When you see stuff like that, you want to go through the TV and say, 'Enough is enough. Please stop hitting this kid."'
Bay County authorities and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have refused to make the tape public, but Barreiro and state Rep. Dan Gelber, a Democrat who also viewed the videotape, said it would be released soon.
"I don't think there's any question there was excessive force," Gelber said. "This is a relatively small kid with a half a dozen of pretty strong men, and he seemed to be phasing in and out of consciousness."
Sheriff Frank McKeithen issued a statement accusing Barreiro and Gelber of overreacting with "irresponsible, premature and incorrect statements" that "add fuel to an already volatile situation."
The contents of the tape were first reported by The Miami Herald.
Gov. Jeb Bush, who was in Orlando, said that although he had not seen the tape, several of his aides had and he was aware of the contents. "Absolutely we're concerned," he said.
Anderson's family said it plans to sue Bay County and the state Department of Juvenile Justice, which oversees boot camp programs. The department gave the camp a good review in June 2004.