BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Justifiable force. The state prosecutor will not file charges against the officers involved in the in-custody death of Tyrone West. Now his family is vowing to continue their fight for justice as police make changes to the way these cases are handled.
Meghan McCorkell has more on the investigation.
It’s been more than 150 days since the death of West, and his family says they still don’t have the answers they’re looking for.
A traffic stop turned deadly.
“Ten officers on one unarmed man equals murder, and that’s what they did,” said Tawanda Jones, West’s sister.
But prosecutors say officers were justified using their fists, batons and pepper spray to subdue the 44-year-old West, who they claim engaged police in a violent fight.
“Mr. West ignored repeated verbal commands by the officers and fought with them over an extended period of time,” said state’s attorney Gregg Bernstein.
West stopped breathing during the struggle.
According to the autopsy, West died from “cardiac arrhythmia due to cardiac conduction system abnormality, complicated by dehydration.”
“He was brutally beaten, maced, Tased,” said Diane Butler, West’s aunt.
But the medical examiner says West’s injuries were not consistent with a beating.
In a statement, the mayor says, “I have charged the Baltimore Police Department to conduct an internal investigation in an effort to further evaluate details surrounding this case and to hold anyone found of any wrongdoing accountable for their actions.”
Earlier this month, city police announced a new reform model to improve investigations into in-custody deaths.
The reforms include an independent panel to review use-of-force cases.
It’s a move Councilman Nick Mosby says will rebuild trust.
“The board will be completely independent of anyone inside of the government that folks are distrustful of,” Mosby said.
That lack of trust is the reason the West family vows to continue their fight.
“I don’t care if it kills me. We’re going to get justice for Tyrone,” Butler said.
Investigators say they found 13 bags of cocaine in West’s car.
Prosecutors say West had three previous convictions for resisting arrest and was on parole for a narcotics violation. He faced eight years in prison if he violated parole.
The eight officers involved in his death remain on desk duty pending review.
The Baltimore Police Department released this statement:
“The Baltimore Police Department must have and will continue to have a reverence for human life. While the criminal review of this difficult situation comes to an end, the internal evaluation of our tactics continues as we seek ways to improve. There will never be a perfect solution to every encounter. We will never stop in our efforts to reform and better our methods.”
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