Fam­ily seeks body cam footage, au­topsy re­port

Times-Record - - FRONT PAGE - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­[email protected]­o­line­times­record.com

DEN­TON — Fam­ily and friends of An­ton Black, the 19-year-old Greens­boro teen who died in Septem­ber while in po­lice cus­tody, spoke Mon­day, Dec. 17, in front of the Caro­line County Cir­cuit Court­house, about the lack of an­swers they have got­ten from in­ves­ti­ga­tors so far, three months after his death.

The fam­ily’s at­tor­ney, Rene Swaf­ford, also pre­sented a list of the fam­ily’s re­quests, in­clud­ing the pub­lic re­lease of footage from the body cam­era worn by a re­spond­ing po­lice of­fi­cer the night Black died; the pub­lic re­lease of Black’s com­plete tox­i­col­ogy and au­topsy re­port from the Of­fice of the Chief Med­i­cal Ex­am­iner; and turn­ing over the case from the Mary­land State Po­lice and Caro­line County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice to fed­eral au­thor­i­ties.

Swaf­ford said the fam­ily is also ask­ing all in­volved po­lice of­fi­cers be placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave with­out pay pend­ing the out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, in­clud­ing state po­lice, who the fam­ily said vi­o­lated civil rights by seiz­ing a car and a cell phone with­out war­rants.

“My fam­ily and I have pa­tiently been wait­ing for an­swers in­volv­ing the death of our brother, son, fa­ther and un­cle, An­ton Black,” said La­Toya Hol­ley, Black’s sis­ter. “It’s been 90 days and we have got­ten no an­swers from any­one. We’ve re­ceived me­di­a­fu­eled sto­ries with un­truths about what hap­pened to him, and frankly, we’ve had enough.

“We know the truth and we want the truth to come out,” Hol­ley said. “We’re seek­ing jus­tice for An­ton, that’s all we want. He would not have died in vain. He was a good man. A lot of peo­ple in this com­mu­nity know An­ton. Please help us in this fight to clear his name and see that we get jus­tice for him.”

Bran­don Jack­son, Black’s brother, said he wants to know why Black’s in­fant daugh­ter, who was born after he died, will never know her fa­ther.

“I would like to know why my lit­tle brother is dead,” Jack­son said. “He was 19 years old, a model. He was in col­lege. He wasn’t in the streets. He didn’t do drugs. He was a good man, and now he’s dead.

“We’ve been ask­ing for an­swers, and we’ve been get­ting noth­ing,” Jack­son said.

Katyra Boyce, the mother of Black’s in­fant daugh­ter, Win­ter Black, read a state­ment with help from her grand­mother, Mary Boyce.

“An­ton passed away two months be­fore our daugh­ter was born,” Mary Boyce read. “And I still have many ques­tions with no an­swers.”

Mary Boyce read that Black of­ten talked about his un­born daugh­ter, won­der­ing what she would look like, and about how he wanted his lit­tle fam­ily to get a place of their own.

“And I’m go­ing to have to ex­plain to my daugh­ter one day why she doesn’t have a fa­ther,” Katyra Boyce said, tak­ing over read­ing her state­ment. “An­ton’s life was stolen from him, and in his ab­sence, it was stolen from us as well.”

Mary Boyce then made her own state­ment. She said the Town of Greens­boro is like a neon sign that says “We are racist,” and that ev­ery­one in­volved in Black’s death should be in­ves­ti­gated.

“Some­body needs to make a stand,” she said. “Some­body knows what re­ally took place, and they’re too much of a cow­ard to come out and stand for what is right.

“Jus­tice has got to be served for this child; it’s wrong,” Mary Boyce said. “If this were a white child, I’d feel the same way. Let jus­tice pre­vail.”

The Rev. Cor­nelius Berry, of New Be­gin­nings United Methodist Church in Ridgely, said Scrip­ture re­minds ev­ery­one to carry each other’s bur­dens.

“When the fam­ily hurts, we all hurt,” Berry said. “When the fam­ily mourns, we all mourn. We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity as a com­mu­nity to stand be­hind the fam­ily and to love them, sup­port them and hold them up dur­ing their time of griev­ing and dur­ing their time of protest. I stand with them and sup­port them in their quest for jus­tice for An­ton Black.”

The ini­tial re­port from the Mary­land State Po­lice, which took over the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said Black was ac­cused of try­ing to abduct a 12-yearold boy shortly after 7 p.m. Sept. 15. An of­fi­cer from the Greens­boro Po­lice De­part­ment was dis­patched and al­legedly saw Black forcibly re­strain­ing a boy.

Po­lice said Black tried to flee, and the foot pur­suit ended at Black’s home in the 13000 block of Greens­boro Drive, where Black jumped into the driver’s seat of his ve­hi­cle, parked next to the home.

Po­lice said Black then tried to exit the pas­sen­ger side of his ve­hi­cle, and the of­fi­cer de­ployed his de­part­ment is­sued taser, strik­ing Black, who con­tin­ued to flee. Black al­legedly bit two po­lice of­fi­cers and a civil­ian who was try­ing to help po­lice.

Po­lice said Black even­tu­ally was 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 gave med­i­cal as­sis­tance on scene by ad­min­is­ter­ing Nar­can and per­form­ing CPR.

Black was taken by am­bu­lance to Univer­sity of Mary­land Shore Med­i­cal Cen­ter at Eas­ton, where he later was pro­nounced dead.

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, po­lice said.

The tox­i­col­ogy re­sults, along with the re­sults of ad­di­tional test­ing of vi­tal or­gans, were ex­pected to take four to six weeks.

Caro­line County State’s At­tor­ney Joe Riley said Mon­day he re­cently con­tacted the med­i­cal ex­am­iner to ask when to ex­pect the tox­i­col­ogy re­port. He said one of the as­sis­tant med­i­cal ex­am­in­ers ver­bally sum­ma­rized the re­sults over the phone, which Riley said he then shared with Swaf­ford and Greens­boro’s town at­tor­ney, but a writ­ten doc­u­ment de­tail­ing the com­plete re­port has still not been re­ceived by the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

Riley said he did not know when that re­port was ex­pected to be made pub­lic.

Riley said Black’s fam­ily’s at­tor­neys have also viewed the footage from the body cam­era of Greens­boro Of­fi­cer Thomas Web­ster IV, and while that footage is not pub­lic, Black’s fam­ily is wel­come to view it too.

Web­ster is a for­mer Dover, Del., of­fi­cer, re­leased by that city’s po­lice de­part­ment in 2016, three years after a dash cam cap­tured footage of Web­ster, who is white, kick­ing La­teef Dick­er­son, an un­armed black man, in the face and break­ing his jaw, and two months after a jury ac­quit­ted Web­ster of a re­sult­ing as­sault charge.

The City of Dover agreed to pay Web­ster $230,000 over six years after his re­lease from the po­lice de­part­ment, on the con­di­tion he never again would seek em­ploy­ment there, and paid Dick­er­son $300,000 to drop a fed­eral civil rights law­suit against the city.

Web­ster was hired by Greens­boro’s de­part­ment early this year and be­gan pa­trolling in April, amid protests from town res­i­dents.

When ques­tioned at the Oct. 4 Greens­boro Town Coun­cil meet­ing as to why Web­ster was still on duty dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Town Man­ager Jean­nette De­Lude said the town at­tor­ney ad­vised them not to put him on leave.

Once the Mary­land State Po­lice has com­pleted its in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the Caro­line County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice is slated to re­view the re­port and de­cide if charges are war­ranted.

Riley said he had al­ready reached out to the Mary­land State’s At­tor­neys’ As­so­ci­a­tion for help with the fam­ily’s re­quest his of­fice is no longer in­volved in the case, if ap­pro­pri­ate.

“What hap­pened to An­ton Black is in­cred­i­bly tragic,” Riley said.

PHOTO BY ABBY AN­DREWS

Fam­ily and friends of An­ton Black gather Mon­day, Dec. 17, in front of the Caro­line County Cir­cuit Court­house to speak about the lack of an­swers re­ceived in the three months since Black died in po­lice cus­tody. From left are Den­ton Town Coun­cilmem­ber Don­cella Wil­son; La­Toya Hol­ley, Black’s sis­ter; An­tone and Jenelle Black, Black’s par­ents; and Katyra Boyce, the mother of Black’s daugh­ter, who was born after her fa­ther’s death.

AN­TON BLACK

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