TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A teen who died after guards punched and kicked him at a boot camp likely was suffocated during the confrontation and was brain dead when he was brought to a hospital, a pathologist told lawmakers Friday.
Dr. Michael Baden observed the second autopsy performed on 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson on Monday in Tampa. He was there on behalf of Anderson's family, who disputes the original autopsy, which found the boy died of complications of sickle cell trait, a usually benign blood disorder many blacks have.
Speaking by telephone from New York, Baden told the House Criminal Justice Committee that Anderson did not die of natural causes.
"He can't breathe, he can't get oxygen," he said. "When he leaves on that stretcher, he's already mostly brain dead."
Surveillance-camera videotape of the altercation at the Panama City boot camp has led some legislators and others to call for the closure of juvenile boot camps. A prosecutor is investigating.
Anderson collapsed while doing exercises during his first day at the camp. The Bay County sheriff's office, which runs the camp, has said the guards were trying to get him to participate after he became uncooperative.
Baden said someone pressed on Anderson's back while he was on the ground - which could have kept him from breathing - and that a guard could be seen holding a hand over the boy's mouth.
"They did that, according to their report, so that he could inhale the ammonia that they were forcing up his nose" to revive him, Baden said.
He said hospital reports showed that an emergency room monitor indicated severe brain damage when he arrived.
(AP) Hundreds of people gather for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of 14-year-old Martin Lee... Full Image
Committee chairman Gus Barreiro said he wants Dr. Charles Siebert, who conducted the first autopsy, to appear before the panel.
Siebert, medical examiner for the district that includes Panama City, issued a statement Thursday saying, "I stand behind my findings." He added, however, that he welcomed "the opportunity to review the findings and conclusions of the second autopsy."
Siebert also said it's not unheard of for medical experts to come to different conclusions after reviewing the same case. He complained he has been subject to "baseless and mean-spirited accusations from special interest groups" calling for everything from revoking his license to criminal charges.
Siebert and Baden attended the second autopsy conducted by Dr. Vernard Adams, the district medical examiner in Tampa. Also there was Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober, who was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to investigate the death.
No guards have been arrested or fired. The camp no longer houses any juveniles and is being closed.
Baden told the committee it may be several weeks before official results of the second autopsy are released. Tissue samples from the body are still undergoing laboratory tests.
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