State to in­ves­ti­gate of­fi­cer’s hir­ing

Records of Greens­boro of­fi­cer in An­ton Black’s death were not com­plete

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Yvonne Wenger

State of­fi­cials will in­ves­ti­gate the hir­ing of the Greens­boro po­lice of­fice in­volved in the death of An­ton Black, the Mary­land Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices spokesman said Satur­day.

Ger­ard Shields said the agency would launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into why a com­plete record of Thomas Web­ster IV’s polic­ing his­tory was not sent to the pub­lic safety depart­ment when state of­fi­cials were asked to con­sider grant­ing the of­fi­cer po­lice pow­ers in Mary­land so he could join the force in the small Eastern Shore town. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion will not be­gin un­til the Mary­land State Po­lice com­plete its probe, Shields said.

Shields said some of Web­ster’s per­son­nel records — in­clud­ing in­ci­dents in­volv­ing “use of force” — were not in­cluded in an ap­pli­ca­tion sent by the Greens­boro po­lice to the pub­lic safety depart­ment for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion con­sid­er­a­tion when Web­ster was hired. Shields said Web­ster was granted pro­vi­sional cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in Jan­uary 2018 and fi­nal ap­proval last May.

The Mary­land com­mis­sion on po­lice train­ing will re­view the in­for­ma­tion and de­cide whether to de­cer­tify Web­ster, Shields said. De­cer­ti­fi­ca­tion would stop Web­ster from work­ing as an of­fi­cer in the state, he said. “We believe that that in­for­ma­tion should have been pro­vided with the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion ap­pli­ca­tion, and that’s why we want to go back and look,” Shields said.

Web­ster was re­cently placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave by the Greens­boro po­lice af­ter Black’s death in po­lice cus­tody Sept. 15. Greens­boro al­lowed Web­ster to re­main on the job for al­most four months af­ter the death of the African-Amer­i­can teen.

Web­ster shocked Black, 19, with a Taser af­ter the teen fled when Web­ster ap­proached him about a re­port of a kid­nap­ping. Ac­cord­ing to body-cam­era footage re­leased by the Greens­boro po­lice, Web­ster com­manded Black to put his hands be­hind him, but Black fled. Black ran to his par­ents’ home and got into a fam­ily mem­ber’s parked car, po­lice video footage shows.

Web­ster is seen on the video us­ing his ba­ton to break the car’s win­dow and reach in to shock Black with a Taser. Af­ter a strug­gle, Web­ster and of­fi­cers who joined the chase force Black to the ground. Black then shows signs of med­i­cal dis­tress and was later pro­nounced dead at a nearby hos­pi­tal.

The Of­fice of the Chief Med­i­cal Ex­am­iner de­ter­mined the death to be an ac­ci­dent, the re­sult of “sud­den car­diac death.” The au­topsy re­port says the strug­gle con­trib­uted to Black’s death and noted that Black had an un­der­ly­ing heart con­di­tion.

Shields said the per­son­nel records sup­plied to the pub­lic safety depart­ment did in­clude some of Web­ster’s full his­tory. The file dis­closed that Web­ster had been in­dicted on sec­ond-de­gree as­sault charges while work­ing as an of­fi­cer in Delaware. Dash-cam footage from that in­ci­dent showed Web­ster kick­ing a black man in the head dur­ing a 2013 ar­rest. Web­ster was later found not guilty, ac­cord­ing to news re­ports, and re­signed with a $230,000 sev­er­ance pack­age.

“What the [Greens­boro po­lice] didn’t put in there was dis­ci­plinary fil­ings in his record,” Shields said. “We found out about them af­ter this in­ci­dent hap­pened.”

STEVE RUARK/PHO­TOS FOR THE BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Deb­bie Sor­rells, the mother of Amy Caprio, a Bal­ti­more County po­lice of­fi­cer who died in the line of duty, watches a short film dur­ing the Fallen He­roes Work­out, a schol­ar­ship fundraiser to honor Caprio, at Sweat Per­for­mance in Ti­mo­nium.

Amy Caprio

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