Florida to pay $5 mln for teen's boot camp death

MIAMI Wed Mar 14, 2007 7:46pm EDT

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MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida has agreed to pay $5 million to the family of a 14-year-old boy who died after he was beaten by guards in a juvenile boot camp, Gov. Charlie Crist said on Wednesday.

Crist, a Republican, disclosed the settlement with the family of Martin Lee Anderson in a letter to the head of the state Senate, saying a "claims bill" to be submitted for congressional approval had his full support.

Seven guards and a nurse were charged with manslaughter in November over the death of Anderson, whose beating by guards was caught on videotape.

Anderson, who was arrested for joyriding in his grandmother's car, collapsed during an exercise drill on January 5, 2006, a few hours after he arrived at the detention center for young offenders. He died at a hospital the next day.

A medical examiner initially ruled that Anderson died of natural causes, sparking outrage from the boy's parents who launched a multimillion-dollar lawsuit after publication of the videotape. The film showed that he was kicked and beaten repeatedly by guards and then forced to inhale ammonia smelling salts.

A second autopsy found the boy died of suffocation because his mouth was blocked while he was forced to inhale the ammonia, which resulted in a blockage of his airway.

The second medical examiner said Anderson died "due to actions of the guards," who are still awaiting trial.

"I know that you are aware of the tragic and untimely death of Martin Lee Anderson while housed at a juvenile justice facility," Crist wrote in his letter to Senate President Ken Pruitt.

"Although we can never replace this young life, I am determined to justly compensate the family for their loss."

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