TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Jeb Bush has written Bay County's sheriff urging him to fire the former supervisor of a juvenile boot camp where guards roughed up a 14-year-old boy who later died.
Bush's letter to Sheriff Frank McKeithen was released by the governor's office Wednesday. It was written Friday, when a medical examiner said a second autopsy on Martin Lee Anderson found he had been suffocated.
Dr. Vernard Adams said the boy couldn't breathe because hands were over his mouth as guards forced him to inhale ammonia fumes. The guards said in a report that they were using ammonia to revive Anderson. The first autopsy found that he died of complications of sickle cell trait, a usually benign blood disorder.
The Jan. 5 struggle was captured on videotape and generated protests in the state Capitol. The handling of the investigation prompted protests and the resignation of the state's top law enforcement official.
The military-style camp was closed and the guards involved in the altercation laid off, but the supervisor, Capt. Mike Thompson, was transferred to another position.
"When we got this additional information I thought it was appropriate to request that he be removed," Bush told reporters Wednesday. "I think there's enough information about how this boot camp operated that suggests there ought to be a clean slate."
McKeithen told The News Herald of Panama City on Tuesday that he had no plans to fire Thompson. McKeithen and Thompson declined to comment Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.
Ben Crump, a lawyer for the boy's family, expressed approval for Bush's request to dismiss Thompson, saying the former supervisor knew or should have known what was going on at the camp.
The Florida Legislature responded to the death by closing the four remaining boot camps and replacing them with a less militaristic program that would include additional support services and after care.