Greensboro, MD police have released raw body camera footage of the death of 19-year old Anton Black in police custody.
The killing of the former track star and budding model has prompted outcry from his family and concerns from the town’s African-American community that police overreacted when they chased and arrested Black.
Recently the Maryland State Medical Examiner ruled Black’s death an accident, citing a congenital heart condition as an underlying factor. The report also concluded police were not responsible for his death.
However, his family maintains that officers aggressive efforts to subdue and arrest him caused his death.
“The autopsy mischaracterizes Anton’s death as accidental. There was nothing accidental about police conduct here.” Black’s attorney Timothy Malone said in a written statement.
The at times chaotic video depicts Black’s initial encounter with police in September and the subsequent chase to his mother’s home.
Police initially stopped Black after a call from a white woman alleging he had abducted a 12-year old friend. However, Black’s family says the boy is a relative, and that the allegations are baseless.
“That is his cousin-in-law, because the boy’s cousin is married to my daughter, we’re all in the same family.” his father, Anton Black, Sr. told The Real News.
“They put out that he kidnapped somebody. The boy’s father talked to him and the boy told him, ‘’He didn’t kidnap me.”
The video shows Anton jogging away from officer Tom Webster after he tells Black he is under arrest. Shortly thereafter Black can be seen running in the opposite direction while being chased by an unidentified white male dressed in plain clothes
The video then shows the officer arriving in the driveway of Anton’s mother’s home where he had locked himself in a family vehicle. There, without giving instruction to Anton the officer smashes a window after which Anton tries to exit the car. Shortly thereafter officer Webster tasers Anton.
Then, several men, some not in uniform including one unidentified male wearing a motorcycle helmet attempt to arrest him.
During the struggle Anton can be heard calling out to his mother. Shortly after the officers place shackles on Anton’s legs, he becomes unresponsive. The officers then struggle to remove his handcuffs and begin performing CPR.
Due to privacy concerns police officials say they have redacted parts of the video depicting Black’s death.
In an interview, Anton’s mother Jennelle Black said she saw police officers forcibly restraining her son.
“I heard him scream, “Mommy, help, help me, mommy.” When I walked out through the kitchen, I saw lights, and so I turned around and I opened up the door and all these officers was on top of him. And I asked, “What are you doing?” They said, “We tried to detain him, he tried to kidnap a 12 year old boy.”
She also believes her son asphyxiated under the weight of the men who restrained him.
“He had Anton in a headlock. They kept trying to handcuff him. I saw Anton kick his legs, and I did say, “Keep still.” But that was his last kick.
Throughout the video, police can be heard making comments that Black was on drugs. But a toxicology report found no evidence of drugs in Black’s body.
Since the release of autopsy the family has called for the Caroline County State’s Attorney, Joseph Riley to convene a grand jury to investigate the case. Their lawyer has also criticized the medical examiner’s office, citing the 43 blunt force injuries to his body as evidence police are responsible for his death.
“The ultimate issue here is whether Officer Webster had probable cause to arrest Anton Black and whether he and the other officer used excessive force in attempting to effectuate an arrest.”
However, Riley in a written statement sent shortly before release of the body cam footage said he would not prosecute the officers.
“There is not currently enough evidence to establish probable cause to seek an indictment,” Riley said in a written statement. “There is no intention to place this matter before them at this time.”
The officer who initially stopped Anton has been involved in controversy before. In 2015, Tom Webster was indicted in Delaware after dashcam video showed him kicking an African-American suspect in the jaw, breaking it in the process.
In 2017 he was acquitted after trial. He was subsequently fired by the Denton, DE police department.
The hiring of Webster was opposed by the city’s African-American community. Residents say after he joined the department police became more aggressive towards the African-American community.
“It wasn’t until this council came and members of this council said things of the nature, we need police that will be tougher on the community, tougher on the citizens,” Christina Robison, a community activist said.
Another piece regarding this story was published by The Real News earlier this month.