Fam­ily blames po­lice for teen’s death

Times-Record - - FRONT PAGE - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com

GREENSBORO — More than 200 fam­ily and friends gath­ered Sat­ur­day night, Sept. 22, for a can­dle­light vigil at Ober Park in Greensboro to cel­e­brate the life of 19-year-old An­ton Black, who died while in po­lice cus­tody just a week be­fore.

The fam­ily shared sto­ries about Black be­ing a gifted, lov­ing per­son who grad­u­ated from North Caro­line High School in 2016, and starred on the foot­ball and track teams.

His fam­ily blames Greensboro po­lice for over­re­act­ing dur­ing the in­ci­dent on Sept. 15, which led to Black’s death. The pre­lim­i­nary po­lice re­port from Mary­land State Po­lice said Black was ac­cused of at­tempt­ing to abduct a 12-year-old boy shortly af­ter 7 p.m. Po­lice said an of­fi­cer from the Greensboro Po­lice De­part­ment was dis­patched to Sun­set Av­enue in the area of the Chop­tank River Bridge and al­legedly saw Black forc-

ibly restraining a boy.

The fam­ily said the po­lice re­port about an at­tempted child ab­duc­tion is false be­cause Black and the 12-yearold boy had been to­gether all day on Sept. 15. The fam­ily said the Greensboro of­fi­cer over­re­acted and caused Black to flee the scene.

“We are dev­as­tated over the sud­den loss of An­ton,” his sis­ter LaToya Hol­ley said while fight­ing tears at the vigil. “Not only be­cause he was taken from us at the ten­der age of 19, but also for the man­ner in which his life was taken. Es­pe­cially when he had not com­mit­ted any crime.

“We know An­ton. He is the vic­tim,” she said. “He did not de­serve to have his life stolen from him be­fore he had a chance to live it. We will not rest un­til An­ton re­ceives jus­tice. Please re­mem­ber him for who he is and not what they will try to make him out to be. An­ton is and al­ways has been a kind, lov­ing and gen­er­ous kid who loves his fam­ily, his friends and his com­mu­nity.”

Po­lice said the foot pur­suit ended at Black’s home in a trailer park in the 13000 block of Greensboro Drive in Greensboro. Black jumped into the driver’s seat of his ve­hi­cle, parked next to the trailer, po­lice said.

When Black at­tempted to exit the pas­sen­ger side of the ve­hi­cle, the of­fi­cer de­ployed his de­part­ment is­sued taser, strik­ing Black, who con­tin­ued to flee, po­lice said, bit­ing two po­lice of­fi­cers and a civil­ian who was at­tempt­ing to as­sist po­lice.

Po­lice said Black was even­tu­ally placed in hand­cuffs and an­kle re­straints. Mo­ments later, of­fi­cers rec­og­nized Black was show­ing signs of med­i­cal dis­tress, po­lice said. They called for an am­bu­lance and ren­dered med­i­cal as­sis­tance on scene by ad­min­is­ter­ing Nar­can and per­form­ing CPR. He was taken by am­bu­lance to the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land Shore Med­i­cal Cen­ter at Easton where he was later pro­nounced dead.

MSP did not re­lease the names of the re­spond­ing Greensboro of­fi­cer or the other of­fi­cers in­volved.

Black’s body was taken to the Of­fice of the Chief Med­i­cal Ex­am­iner in Bal­ti­more for an au­topsy. The au­topsy did not re­veal a cause of death, and no sig­nif­i­cant in­juries were noted by the pathol­o­gist, state po­lice said. Tox­i­col­ogy re­sults are also pend­ing, along with the re­sults of ad­di­tional test­ing of vi­tal or­gans.

A Mary­land State Po­lice spokesman said Mon­day, Sept. 17, the tox­i­col­ogy re­port could take four to six weeks to com­plete.

“This was a good, young man,” Robert Thomas, Black’s high school track and field coach, said. “I’ve seen a lot of this com­mu­nity pat him on the back when he scored a touch­down. I’ve seen them praise him for run­ning that ball. Some of those same ones that did that were the same ones that were in­volved in last week’s sit­u­a­tion.”

“My prob­lem with that is they (are) rec­og­niz­ing a num­ber, but they are not rec­og­niz­ing a face,” he said. “If we rec­og­nize the faces, that is An­ton, and An­ton is not like this. Let’s set­tle this a dif­fer­ent way. But that didn’t hap­pen. That both­ers me. When things don’t hap­pen the way it should, it is a prob­lem.”

Black was a wide re­ceiver on North Caro­line High’s 2015 foot­ball team that went 10-0 in the reg­u­lar sea­son and won the pro­gram’s first re­gional ti­tle be­fore los­ing to Walk­ersville in the Class 2A state semi­fi­nals. Black also helped the Bull­dogs win the 2016 Bay­side Con­fer­ence and 2A East Re­gion boys’ out­door track and field ti­tles, win­ning re­gional ti­tles in the 100- and 200-me­ter sprints, the high jump, and an­chor­ing the first-place 4x200-me­ter re­lay team.

Thomas pre­sented the re­gion track plaque to Black’s fam­ily, and said many of An­ton’s team­mates are hurt­ing very bad.

“Part of the hurt is be­cause there is no an­swers,” he said. “I just want the fam­ily to know that we are not go­ing any­where. We are go­ing to be be­hind you. Any­thing you need, we got you.”

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, Black be­came a model, and trav­eled to New York for Fash­ion Week. He also mod­eled in fash­ion shows in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Christina Robin­son re­mem­bered Black as a won­der­ful young man who she got to know through her chil­dren and the church teen group she or­ga­nized.

“He was a friend,” she said. “He was a team­mate. He was a class­mate. I had the plea­sure of hav­ing him in my teen group. I watched him play foot­ball in this park, plant flow­ers around town and give out food for the home­less in this com­mu­nity.

“I ask that we all do our part, and fo­cus on help­ing one an­other through this ex­tremely dif­fi­cult time as a com­mu­nity,” she said. “Let us fo­cus on the pos­i­tive as­pects of An­ton’s life, and the great things he did for his school and for this com­mu­nity. Let us not be­come a com­mu­nity that is quicker to de­mo­nize, and crim­i­nal­ize rather than sym­pa­thize.

“Let us pay more at­ten­tion to the youth in our com­mu­nity to pre­vent tragedies like this from ever hap­pen­ing again,” she said. “Let us all seek God for strength, help and guid­ance.”

Caro­line County NAACP Chap­ter Pres­i­dent Berl Lovelace also at­tended the vigil.

“It takes a vil­lage to heal a wound,” he said. “We all, in this com­mu­nity, have been wounded. We need to come to­gether and show Chris­tian love to his fam­ily.”

Clos­ing words for the vigil came from Caro­line Sher­iff’s Of­fice Chap­lain Doug Mor­ley of Bethel Wes­leyan Church in Golds­boro. He has met with the fam­ily over the past week. He said he did not know Black per­son­ally, but he did learn more about their con­nec­tions.

“My heart breaks for you and for our com­mu­nity,” he said. “I learned that we share six mu­tual friends on Face­book. It is in­ter­est­ing how con­nected we re­ally are even though we don’t know it. I dis­cov­ered this evening that he not only is a beloved son and brother, he also is a beloved friend.”

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is be­ing con­ducted by the Mary­land State Po­lice Homi­cide Unit. State Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors are con­tin­u­ing to re­view body cam­era footage and con­duct­ing in­ter­views with wit­nesses.

Upon com­ple­tion of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by state po­lice, the case will be for­warded to the Caro­line County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice for re­view.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Fam­ily and friends gather for a can­dle­light vigil in Greensboro for An­ton Black who died Sat­ur­day, Sept. 15, while in po­lice cus­tody.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Fam­ily and friends gather for a can­dle­light vigil in Greensboro for An­ton Black who died Sat­ur­day, Sept. 15, while in po­lice cus­tody.

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