GREENSBORO, Md. (WJZ) — The family of 19-year-old Anton Black is demanding a Department of Justice civil rights investigation into his death after police in Greensboro released body camera video of his encounter with officers.
Black died last September in the small Eastern Shore community.
The family thanked Governor Larry Hogan. They believe his public comments on the investigation hastened the release of the autopsy and police body-worn camera video.
“He shouldn’t have died like that,” the teen’s mother Jennell Black told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “Those officers need to pay. I need to make sure that they pay, and that’s what I want. I want justice for my son.”
The encounter began with a Greensboro officer responding to a call for an abduction. He found Black with a 12-year-old boy walking down the road near his mother’s home.
Black told the officer the boy was his brother. When the boy denied that, Black took off running.
The video shows him hiding in his father’s car. The officer breaks the windows and uses a Taser on Black.
Black continues struggling with officers—including from a neighboring jurisdiction—and a bystander who joined in. They restrain him in front of his mother’s home.
Within minutes, he appears to have trouble breathing. The officers—and later paramedics—perform CPR. Black later died at a hospital.
Greensboro Police Chief Mike Petyo declined to speak on camera with WJZ, but agreed to sit down with Hellgren to discuss the case.
He said he believed police acted professionally during the encounter and said the video supports that.
The chief also said he would support federal justice department officials looking into the case. He said he is still waiting on a Maryland State Police investigation into whether his officer followed all proper procedures in the incident.
The state’s attorney in Caroline County said there is not enough evidence to bring the case before a grand jury.
Black’s sister LaToya Holley said she “could see the fear in her brother.” Family members said he was scared of the officer who stopped him. They say that’s why he ran to his mother’s home.
The family’s lawyer René Swafford told WJZ the Department of Justice needs to open an “independent civil rights investigation” into what happened. She cited a “lack of transparency” by local authorities and said the video police released last week was different than what had previously been shown to the family, omitting the initial stop among other things.
In that video, Black tells his mother “I love you” as she watches from her door while police and the civilian bystander restrain him. She questioned why that bystander was not ordered away from
the escalating situation.
She said it breaks her heart to hear the “I love you” now, but she never heard it during the commotion. Black’s sister told WJZ, “I think Anton knew those would be his last moments alive.”
Black’s mother said having a federal investigation is important to her because “I can’t get justice here in Caroline County.”