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Boot camp death not natural, second autopsy finds

Fed probe under way into Florida incident

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Justice and Rights
Boot camp

TAMPA, Florida (CNN) -- A second autopsy of Martin Lee Anderson, who died after workers at a Florida boot camp restrained and hit him, has determined that natural disease did not cause the teenager's death, a coroner announced Tuesday.

"I think we all agree he did not die of sickle trait," said Dr. Michael Baden, who was asked by Anderson's family to take part in the second autopsy, which lasted 12 hours.

The results were in contrast to the initial autopsy, which determined that the 14-year-old died of complications from sickle cell trait, which previously had not been diagnosed in the teen athlete.

Confirming the autopsy results was a spokeswoman for Hillsborough County state attorney Mark Ober, who is leading the state's investigation into Anderson's death and ordered the second autopsy.

"The preliminary findings indicate the boy did not die from sickle cell trait, nor did he die from natural causes," Pam Bondi said in the statement.

"I'm just glad the truth finally came out," said Anderson's mother, Gina Jones. Her family, other medical experts and civil rights leaders balked at the conclusion of the first autopsy, accusing the officers of murder and demanding an independent investigation.

A federal probe into whether Anderson's civil rights were violated by the use of excessive force is also under way at the request of Anderson's parents and local leaders, the U.S. attorney's office said.

In addition to Baden and Ober's own pathologist at the autopsy was Bay County medical examiner Charles Siebert, who performed the first autopsy.

Baden said that while he believes Siebert made a "mistake that can be made without bias," outside pressures and racial bias would be looked into as possible factors.

Anderson died shortly after collapsing at the Bay County Sheriff's Office Boot Camp for juvenile offenders on January 5. He had complained of breathing difficulties while running around a track as part of the entry process on his first day at the facility.

Videotape of his entry process showed staffers hitting Anderson from behind and using various takedown methods against him, including knees to the thigh, pressure points to his ear and punches to his arms.

A staff report prepared later explained that Anderson had resisted repeated attempts to get him to complete the exercise. One staffer wrote: "I ordered (the) offender to stop resisting and relax his arms. Offender refused to comply with those instructions."

The Bay County sheriff's office said he was restrained for being "uncooperative."

No charges have been filed in the case, but state authorities have since shut down the boot camp. The Bay County sheriff's office said the closure had nothing to do with Anderson's case but said the eight people involved in the incident were not offered new jobs.

CNN's John Zarrella contributed to this report

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