Boot Camp Death -- Caught on Tape


The local sheriff said on the day of the incident that Anderson simply collapsed during the run, and the local coroner ruled that the 14-year-old healthy teenager died of natural causes, blaming a sickle cell trait that made it difficult for Anderson to absorb oxygen.

The Tale of the Tape

Anderson's parents claimed conspiracy, and the case might have all gone away -- except for those surveillance cameras. Robert Anderson, the teenager's father, said that "everything had been shoved right up under the rug. Martin Anderson been forgot about if it wouldn't have been for this tape."

The tape was eventually released, and after it was widely played on television and the internet, there was a public outcry, and a second autopsy followed. Prosecutors believe that this second autopsy showed that Anderson did indeed die because of the incident: He had been suffocated to death.

A special prosecutor was appointed and Helms and his crew were charged with manslaughter and gross negligence. When asked if he thought he would have been charged had the tape not existed, Helms says, "I don't believe so."

Helms says he did not neglect Anderson once he determined the boy was in trouble. "We did not disregard the fact that he was in trouble as soon as it was recognized. We changed hats and went to a rescue mode," he says. "I feel terrible…this is a devastating thing. I can only imagine what it would be like to lose one of my children, one of my sons."

The Andersons don't have to imagine -- they just have to grieve. Florida juvenile boot camps were closed after Anderson's death and the use of ammonia capsules on juveniles is now banned in that state. And Helms, along with his deputies, will go on trial in 2007.

All because what they did was caught on tape.

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