Six Charged With Murder In Teen's Restraint Death
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 11, 2005
CLEVELAND, GEORGIA--Six former counselors of a therapeutic wilderness camp pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder charges in the restraint death of a teenager.
The men also pleaded not guilty to charges of cruelty to children in the second degree and involuntary manslaughter.
A White County grand jury indicted the six for felony murder after the Georgia State Medical Examiner determined that 14-year-old Travis Parker died after he had been restrained facedown at the White County Outdoor Therapeutic Camp for 90 minutes.
Parker, who records show was born addicted to crack cocaine and had a history of "aggressive behavior", was attending the Appalachian Wilderness Camp run by the Department of Human Resources.
According to a state official, Parker was one of several boys who were not allowed to eat in the lodge as punishment for "acting out" on April 20. He reportedly became upset about 10 o'clock in the evening when a counselor rewarded two other boys with a snack.
The six counselors then restrained Parker on his stomach in what is called a "full basket hold", with his arms crossed in front of him and held from behind. Within 10 minutes he started asking for his asthma inhaler, but the staff members refused.
The staffers noticed that Travis had stopped breathing and became limp at 11:30. He died the next day at a local hospital after he was taken off life support.
The White County News Telegraph reported that DHR fired five of the men for allegedly withholding a regular meal from Parker and for not allowing him to use his asthma inhaler. The sixth man resigned after the incident.
Last month, the state fired former training supervisor Sam Shoemaker for failing to cooperate with officials investigating Parker's death. The counselors involved in the restraint told investigators that they were just doing what they had been trained by Shoemaker to do.