Family of Anton Black, 19-year-old who died at the hands of police on Eastern Shore, reach $5 million settlement in federal lawsuit




  • In US
  • 2022-08-08 19:11:00Z
  • By Baltimore Sun
 

The family of Anton Black, the 19-year-old African-American man who died in police custody in Maryland's Caroline County in 2018, has settled part of their federal lawsuit against several municipalities on the Eastern Shore.

Black's family will receive $5 million as part of the settlement, which also requires three towns to enact systemic changes within their police departments tailored to preventing another death like Black's, according to a news release from the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland.

Lawyers for the family and the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black will continue to litigate a portion of the lawsuit that alleges the state's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and its controversial former chief medical examiner, Dr. David Fowler, conspired to cover up the circumstances of his death.

In a statement provided by the ACLU, Black's mother decried her son's death at the hands of police and said she hoped the reforms outlined in the settlement will prevent more tragedies.

"I had to watch those police officers kill my son, while he pleaded for his life and called out to me," Jennell Black said. "There are no words to describe the immense hurt that I will always feel when I think back on that tragic day, when I think of my son ... I hope the reforms within the police departments will save lives and prevent any family from feeling the pain we feel every day."

Black died Sept. 16, 2018, at Easton Memorial Hospital, shortly after an altercation with an officer from the Greensboro Police Department and two other officers from other agencies. All of the officers were white.

The officers confronted Black after a woman called 911 after seeing Black wrestle with a younger relative. Black ran, and the officers chased him through Greensboro and to his family's home in a trailer park. The officers fired a taser at Black, pinned him down on a ramp leading up to his home, cuffed him and stayed on top of him for almost six minutes.

His mother was home and could be heard on body-camera footage asking officers if her son was breathing.

An autopsy revealed he died of sudden cardiac arrest, with the report by the medical examiner saying stress associated with his struggle with law enforcement contributed.

Black's death spurred calls for wholesale change in Maryland and, while Black's family was frustrated that it took lawmakers years to pass legislation bearing his name, the landmark "Maryland Police Accountability Act" was enacted into law in 2021. Among its components, "Anton's Law" promised to make police disciplinary records more transparent.

One of the officers involved in Black's death, Thomas Webster IV, who is no longer with the Greensboro Police Department, neglected to disclose nearly 30 use-of-force reports from his previous career as an officer in Dover, Delaware. Maryland officials revoked Webster's law enforcement certification in 2019.

Attorneys representing Webster along with Greensboro and its former police chief, Michael Petyo, did not immediately respond Monday afternoon to requests for comment. A lawyer representing Fowler did not immediately respond. The Maryland Office of the Attorney General, which is representing the state medical examiner's office, declined to comment.

The ACLU said reforms outlined in the settlement expand upon the changes brought about by lawmakers in 2021.

Each of the three municipalities will be required to overhaul their use of force polices; bolster resources for officers handling mental health crises; add training on de-escalation and implicit bias; provide more transparency about hiring; and report complaints publicly, according to the news release.

The municipalities named in the complaint are Greensboro and Ridgley, both in Caroline County, and Centreville, in Queen Anne's County.

Advocates touted the municipal reforms as a framework for more change at the state and national level.

"The family and our coalition have worked tirelessly to bring accountability in Anton Black's case and to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening in our community again," Richard Potter, a member of the group created to bring about justice for Black, said in a statement.

Attorneys with the ACLU represented the coalition in the lawsuit.

"We are hopeful," Potter said, "that by reforming these local police departments, we will start to move a little closer in the right direction, away from white supremacy and closer to a nation of true equality and justice."

COMMENTS

More Related News

Indio Police investigating double homicide; bodies found in burned vehicle
Indio Police investigating double homicide; bodies found in burned vehicle
  • US
  • 2022-12-03 01:36:41Z

Power Line Road is an unpaved service road with power lines above in the open desert north of the city, according to police.

Theft ring believed to be targeting Buddhist temples in North Texas
Theft ring believed to be targeting Buddhist temples in North Texas
  • US
  • 2022-12-02 18:31:02Z

Police departments in North Texas are investigating a possible theft ring responsible for a string of burglaries targeting local Buddhist temples. There...

Teen on saying goodbye to her dad before he was executed:
Teen on saying goodbye to her dad before he was executed: 'We were able to get everything off our chests'
  • US
  • 2022-12-02 18:27:36Z

Kevin Johnson was put to death by lethal injection for the killing of a suburban St. Louis police officer in 2005.

Two NC police officers, firefighter hurt in fatal house fire turned shooting
Two NC police officers, firefighter hurt in fatal house fire turned shooting
  • US
  • 2022-12-02 15:38:12Z

Someone in the home that was on fire had a gun, the deputy chief says.

Police release videos of officer-involved shooting in Litchfield on Thanksgiving
Police release videos of officer-involved shooting in Litchfield on Thanksgiving
  • US
  • 2022-12-02 11:00:00Z

The 41-year-old suspect tried to hijack a vehicle using a handgun, according to investigators.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US