Boot Camp Death of Boy
Ammonia inhalation, covered mouth, throat constriction, air passage prevention, death
Boy, 14, tells of boot camp beatings. A boy who says he witnessed the beating of Martin Lee Anderson recalled what he saw and heard at the Panama City boot camp.
By Marc Caputo mcaputo@MiamiHerald.com, Miami Herald, February 26, 2006
...Aaron Swartz can't forget any of it. Not because he saw it all the way most people did -- in a grainy videotape of the guards and Martin before his death -- but because Aaron was there, at Bay County Boot Camp, receiving much of the same violent treatment that still makes him shudder miles away from it all.
''They killed that boy. They didn't help him. They beat him,'' Aaron, also 14, told The Miami Herald in one of the first eyewitness -- and earwitness -- accounts of the dehumanizing experience of life at the Panama City lockup before, during and after Martin's arrival.
Like every kid who's about to enter the Bay Boot Camp, Aaron said Martin lost his first name. From the moment he arrived Jan. 5, he was called ''Offender Anderson,'' just like Aaron was ''Offender Swartz.'' Actually, the names -- and slurs and everything else -- were screamed at them by ''drill instructors,'' who slammed boys against concrete walls, shoved their thumbs in a painful pressure point behind their ears, and forced them to respond with a ``Sir, yes sir!''
...Aaron spoke to The Miami Herald for more than an hour at his mother's Tallahassee-area home during a weekend break Saturday from a Panhandle wilderness camp...Martin was doing well, but then he staggered, stopped and fell.
''They should have known he wasn't faking because it was his last lap,'' Aaron said.
DI Charles Steven Enfinger made a beeline for Martin and ''slammed him up against the wall,'' he said.
''He's one of the most violent ones, he likes to slam you and stuff. They all come to work, every day, and try to slam somebody. It's like you can tell by the way they act,'' Aaron said.
DI Henry Lincoln McFadden soon joined Enfinger, said Aaron, noting the two men yelled in Martin's face.
Soon, everyone had finished their exercises and had to sit down nearby, eyes forward. Aaron said he shifted his glance slightly to watch Martin. He said he was too far away to hear everything Enfinger and McFadden were yelling, but never heard any type of response from Martin.
Here's what he heard: ''Point 99 on Offender Anderson.'' It was McFadden and Enfinger reporting in radio code that they had applied a pressure-point behind Martin's ear. After seven of those, Aaron stopped counting. He said he also saw and heard the ''knee takedown'' on Martin.
One DI watching over Aaron and the others laughed: ''Offender Anderson's going to have a long day.'' Aaron said multiple guards joined in, and Cpl. Joseph Walsh used so much exertion that he worked up a sweat. He said Enfinger struck Martin repeatedly on the arm, which is reflected in the video.
''And the nurse comes over there. She's watching. She's standing there,'' he said. Soon she applied an electronic pulse reader to Martin's finger that beeps with every heart beat. ''It was like beep-beep-beep-beep,'' Aaron said quickly.
Finally, the tone of the DI screaming started to change from angry to concerned when Walsh said: ''Get the red bag!'' The bag had ammonia sticks in it, which the guards would crack open and press against the offenders' noses to revive them to perform more exercises. A DJJ official said last week that using ammonia in this nonmedical way was against policy. Aaron said he had been dosed once when he was about to pass out from exercise. ''It burns,'' he said.
But the ammonia didn't revive Martin. And soon they could hear the sirens. The boys were led inside. Martin was whisked away only hours after arriving at the camp.
The following evening, about 15 hours after Martin was pronounced dead, Aaron said, the mental health counselor named ''Ms. Miki'' told them that ``it was completely medical. . . . Athletes die every day, all the time, for medical reasons -- that healthy athletes stop and die so it's not unusual.''
Said Aaron: ``I don't think that's true at all. Even if it was medical, when he passed out, if they would have set him down and then gave him medical help right then, I think they could have saved his life and everything. But instead, they did all pressure-pointing, slammed him, beating up on him and everything.''