BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The death of a 21-year-old man after a violent encounter with Baltimore County police in September has been ruled accidental.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Tawon Boyd’s death was likely caused by drugs, according to a report in The Baltimore Sun.
“It is unlikely that restraint by law enforcement caused or significantly contributed to his death based on the reported circumstances and timeline of the restraint,” medical examiners wrote. “Since his death most likely followed from complications of intoxication with a drug (N-Ethylpentylone), the manner of death is best certified as accident.”
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration classifies N-Ethylpentylone as a type of synthetic cathinone, which are more commonly referred to as “bath salts.”
Officers responded to Boyd’s home on Sept. 18, to find he and his fiancee screaming at each other. Police said he appeared “confused and paranoid,” and ended up in a physical struggle with officers outside the home.
After medics arrived, the report says “Boyd tried to break free from his restraints while four officers held him down.”
“It’s a violent struggle. I mean he is ripping off their badges. He’s ripping off the cords to their radios,” says Baltimore County Police spokeswoman Elise Aramacost.
When medics got there, they gave Boyd an anti-psychotic. He was taken to the hospital, where he died three days later, on Sept. 21., after suffering from multiple organ failure.
Now, the Medical Examiner has ruled his death an accidental overdose of bath salts saying,
“It is unlikely that restraint by law enforcement caused or significantly contributed to his death…”
After receiving some sort of treatment, the report says “Boyd became so calm they asked a medic to check the suspect for a pulse” but “could clearly see he was still breathing.”
Boyd’s family and fiancee, who was by his side that night, tell a different story.
“He on the ground, five other officers on top of him, and not only that, one police officer got his arm around his neck like this, punching him, punching, him and throughout the whole thing he’s like I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” said Deona Styron, Boyd’s fiance.
“He said he couldn’t breathe, and not only that, after the ambulance got there, he was still on the ground for 20 minutes, and when they lifted him up to put him on the stretcher he was unconscious, dangling,” said Styron.
Now, the Boyd family has hired their own investigators to look into what killed him.
Attorneys for the Boyd family tell WJZ they have many unanswered questions.
“I have great reservations about what was allegedly in his system that triggered all of this. They also question the level of force used by officers,” says A. Dwight Pettit, attorney for the Boyd family.
Images released by the family to WJZ are shocking to see.
“What Mr. Boyd looked like when he arrived at the hospital. He looked like he took a serious beating,” says Boyd family attorney Latoya Francis-Williams.
Attorneys also want answers about the impact that anti-psychotic drug given by medics had on Boyd.
“Someone that needs medical assistance doesn’t deserve to die,” says Francis-Williams.
The attorneys say they are still preparing a wrongful death lawsuit against Baltimore County.
Investigators say no officers were wearing body cameras at the time of the confrontation.
Boyd’s family attorney says he plans to get an expert, independent review, of the medical examiner’s findings.