Kill a dog, go to jail, kill a black boy and nothing happens

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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 lawywers 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.”

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.

I’m still pickin pieces of my brain outta the carpet because my head exploded when I read this.

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20 thoughts on “Kill a dog, go to jail, kill a black boy and nothing happens

  1. rikyrah,

    I don’t know what the composition of the jury was. But I’m thinking it was either all white or almost. There is no way in Hell that these people woulda got off if it had been a Natalie Holloway or some other white child. I cannot even comprehend this or articulate my anger.

  2. youllnevrkno

    i was shocked when i read this..
    i cant believe those 8 people are going to walk..
    they murdered that boy..
    if there is a black child on trial or murdered
    then the 12 person jury should consists of
    6 white, 6 black..
    if the guards and nurse walked from murder
    because of racism
    where has the world gone??
    whats gunna happen next time a black kid dies??
    we gunna let them walk too??
    i think those 8 people should get life or needle
    if i was on that jury, that court would still be going.
    i cannot believe they walked

  3. 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?

  4. While I agree with all of your sentiments, I have to ask why was this kid in such a “boot camp” anyway. All of you know there are none of our kids that get that far out of control with their parents that a good ol’ fashioned ass-whipping wouldn’t have set straight.

    I’m more concerned that Black parents are starting to follow this trend of abandoning their responsibility as parents and giving in to this shyt of sending their kid to “boot camp”. Y’all all know our parents did not play this shyt with us; we either did what they said or we got an ass-whipping. Even in the advent of law enforcement’s threat to put our parents in jail for whipping us, our parents just stepped it up a notch, continued to beat us when we needed discipline, and threatened us to call the po-po afterwards. Did any of us make-good on their threat?

    I don’t think so.

    It is a tragedy that this kid died, and as a result of some abusive SOBs who had no more business running a “boot camp” for out of control kids than they did running a dog-pound as dog catchers. In fact, dogs do a better job of nurturing their litter than those individuals running these “boot camps”.

    I never thought the murderers of Black people would never get tried and convicted in courts throughout the South. Look at the girl who we know got gang-raped by a group of white frat boys at Duke.

    She got ridiculed, the DA got disbarred and the Duke lacrosse players transferred to other Ivy League colleges where it’s virtually guaranteed that they will strike again, but this time, it will be a white girl and their asses will get jailed next time.

    Or Rodney King. We saw his beat down by the LA police on video tape, for Christ’s sake! And an all-white jury in Simi Valley set those four officers free. Only when Clinton got in office and had the Justice Department go after their asses for violating Rodney King’s civil rights, was any justice seen.

    OJ, with his ignorant ass, wiped out our feeling about justice being finally served, by committing the fool act of trying to rob Vegas of his Heisman trophy, because the Goldman family is still trying to collect on that judgement they won years ago.

    The Jena Six – we know that justice wasn’t served, and all Reed Walters can do is try to think of ways to pay back Black people for exposing his ass as a racist prick.

    We KNOW the justice system in no way means JUSTICE for US. All I’m saying is that since we know this, we need to QUIT getting into situations where we require justice and we KNOW justice is NOT COMING when we need it.

  5. Emmy

    I live here in Panama City.
    I am sickened by this.
    There should have been 12 jurors.
    The judge should have mentioned the “fully informed jury” information that is our right as citizens under the Constitution (and this goes for all trials – look it up). But none of them do. So you do it.
    Put the video if you can get it up on this site. There is NO WAY these people should have been released without some charges. Personally, manslaughter or murder would have been good. The nurse stood there, hands on hips looking on.
    This is a terrible day for all of us, all colors.
    Justice was not done and we have a good reason for fear now. They can do anything they like and they will feel they can get away with it.
    An all white jury in the deep south? This is not Miami. This is the deep south.

  6. lean

    I read this when I got home from work this morning and was truly sad. I am an ER nurse and have traveled through many states of the USA. I am not from the USA. I have never seen anyone treated in this way as a form of any medical treatment for any behavior. I HAVE though, medically provided life saving care for people/children treated like this. As a human first my belief in the USA as equal and free for all is being challenged daily when I see these types of actions taken by people. This is racism pure and simple. As a emergency medical professional I am disturbed to think that anyone would watch this behavior and support a belief that this was proper treatment. IT IS NOT.
    White,Black,Asian, we need to stand up and speak up to our peers, friends, family etc, pass the truth on that this is not right, not acceptable and not humane.

  7. Denise

    “We KNOW the justice system in no way means JUSTICE for US. All I’m saying is that since we know this, we need to QUIT getting into situations where we require justice and we KNOW justice is NOT COMING when we need it.” – TPJ

    co-sign!

    Similarly, until I hear that someone has placed a noose around a person’s neck and inflicted physical harm, I’m not giving this issue any more attention.

  8. JoJo

    Look… this ‘boot camp’ was for people with serious problems. All of these ‘people'(white, black or green) 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'(white, black or green) 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.

    And I can’t wait to hear Al Sharpton or the Rev. Jessie Jackson comment on this one… hahaha what a joke those 2 douche bags are. Would have been better if both of them received the ass beating that this kid received.

  9. Michele

    No matter WHAT offense this CHILD committed, unless given the death penalty as a sentence, he DID NOT DESERVE what was portrayed on that video. JOJO..WHAT IF THAT WAS YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER ON THAT VIDEO? YOU SOUND YOUNG YOURSELF SO WHAT IF IT WAS YOU ON THAT VIDEO? They labeled him a violent offender by placing the red dot on his door and you can’t make me believe that did not come into play during this tape. Yes he probably was being defiant….but he had 7 grown men surrounding him and a nurse no helping him at all. Even if I gave the benefit of the doubt and said the guards did not recognize the medical distress, the NURSE definately should have recognized and put a stop to it before any harm was further done. If his parents were caught doing that to him on tape they would be charged with child abuse. So what gives those the right to do that to Martin. My dad is a retired homicide detective and my mom works in the penal system (state) so I know what ANIMALS are. Martin and those other children in that boot camp ARE NOT and WERE NOT animals! And Martin truly did not deserve DEATH and NEGLECT while pleading for help as his punishment.

  10. mary

    did the mother knew the child had sickle cell problems and did she also knew about the punishment the boot camp guards carry out on the kids before she place her child in that hell hole, if she knew all those things, she set up her child to be killed, so she attributed to his death, and did the father also knew about the punishment and other monstrous things they do to the kids if they disobey, if he did he also set up his son to be killed. I think they didn’t want to be bothered with him no more and they just send him there, knowing full well that he wont be able to do any strenuous exercises. A lot of questions the mother must answer, I could see why many people are mad with her.

  11. mary

    I’m not saying the guards are not guilty, they are, but the mother should have investigated what punishment they do to the kids, and research the place more, Martin didnt choose to go to that place, the stuipid parents sent him there, and to the person who said he deserve it because he stole a car, the grandmother should’ve given him another chance, she knew he had sickle cell problems and she let her daughter send the boy off there to be killed by these holigans, they are animals that set up these boot camp similar to the holocaust in the 40’s, you meaning to tell me a child should be treated like that, what were they thinking when they receive a pay check and knowing how many children they abuse everyday. The black guards are uneducated illiterate bastards who would do the worse job just for a pay check, everyone knows many blacks worship they bosses especially white bosses, so I am not surprise the black guards get involved in the beating and kicking. They should be cleaning trash along the highway not working with children. I still blame the mother though because she knew the poor kid didn’t had the strength to involve in long runs or other exercises, she could’ve got him in some other program that he could get some counseling and one on one care,not send you child to the wolves, they are wolves in this country, hiding behind youth detention centers. The mother was poor because she worked at burger king so she obviously was not educated, but she could’ve used more common sense and not give up on her dear son so quickly, yes he was wicked but who said raising a child was easy, it is an every day job, and you have to repeat to them the same thing over and over again, that is the job of a mother, not send it off to the state, they wont care for your child, they see him as a trouble maker and scum of the earth.I have a 34 year old son and I still care for him if he needs anything because that is a mother’s duty, it never ends,a 14 year old is a child, not an adult it needs a mother and a father’s care, so I am angry with the mother.

  12. Michele

    As was stated earlier, as parents we are losing site on how & when to discpipline our kids. With the government stepping in the way they do…a child can call CPS and claim abuse for being whooped with a belt. I am 36 and there were many days my parents took the belt to me when I did wrong. And if nothing else it taught me not to do that again. However, parents are stuck in a position where if they were to discipline their child themselves CPS can be involved to come to incorrct conclusions. So we look to our law agencies to enforce rule and discipline and then they fail us HORRIBLY. From what I understand, his grandmother wanted him and the other kids to be sentenced to community service. She had in mind of them working at or for the church they attend since the children decided to take her car during Sunday morning service…since they disrespected the church they would repay the church dong community service. The courts decided to send him to this boot camp because it was not his first offense. PARENTS, WE MUST GET BACK TO LEARNING TO TEACH OUR OWN CHILDREN RIGHT FROM WRONG AND STOP DEPENDING ON THE LAW AGENCIES AND GOVERNMENT TO PARENT OUR CHILDREN FOR US! I have 4 children..with my oldest graduating from high school this year on the A/B honor roll. I can say I never spared the rod….

  13. Sam

    As a resident of Panama City, Florida; it still hurt me to see how this case was handled on this day; June 26th, 2008. One positive thing I will say; Martin Anderson’s death mean life for other troubled youth; because all the boot camps across the state have closed. Any program which allows use of force on children; counter the state statutes on child abuse and child safety laws. My experience supervising children and adult offenders gives me plenty of knowlege on the subject. My prayers go out to the Anderson family; the boot camp staff members; and their famalies as well. Hopefully we all learned from this tragedy; and it will never happen again!

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