BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A federal judge on Wednesday declined to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the family of Anton Black, a 19-year-old Black man who died in 2018 after an altercation with police on the Eastern Shore.
In a memorandum on the ruling, U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake wrote there are many disputed facts in the case that are not answered by body-worn camera footage, “including the cause(s) of Mr. Black’s death.”READ MORE: Marilyn Mosby's Trial Still On Track For Sept. 19, According To Amended Schedule Filed Monday
In a statement, Black’s sister, LaToya Holley, lauded the judge’s decision.
“This sweeping ruling matters so much to our family and our ongoing struggle to ensure there is accountability for the police who murdered Anton, all those who covered it up, and for the medical examiner who tried to justify it,” she said. “This ruling gives us some hope in our hearts that accountability will come, and that our lawsuit may ultimately help other families around the country who are also mourning loved ones whose killings by police were also covered up.”
The suit alleges Black’s death could have been prevented at multiple points, and claims it was covered up by police, three small towns and the state medical examiner’s office.
On Jan. 19, Blake declined to throw out the lawsuit’s claims that police used excessive force.
Relatives sued three police officers who in 2018 tried to arrest Black in his hometown of Greensboro: former Greensboro police Officer Thomas Webster IV, former Ridgley police Chief Gary Manos and Centreville police Officer Dennis Lannon.READ MORE: 3 Men Receive Life Sentences In Trio Of Baltimore Shootings
Additionally, the State of Maryland, Town of Centreville, Town of Greensboro, Town of Ridgely and Chief Medical Examiner Victor W. Weedn are named in the suit.
According to body-worn camera footage, Webster confronted Black after a 911 caller reported a man was dragging a child down the road in a headlock.
The boy, a friend of Black’s family, said Black was “schizophrenic” and had been acting strangely.
Black ran away from officers to his family’s home, where he got in a car. Webster smashed a window of the vehicle with a baton and then used a stun gun on Black in front of his home.
Following a struggle with the three officers on the porch of the family’s home, Black lost consciousness. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Both Manos and Lannon were off duty when they tried to help Webster arrest Black.
The Caroline County State’s Attorney declined to take the case to a grand jury. The medical examiner ruled Black’s death “accidental” from “sudden cardiac death.”MORE NEWS: Jury Selected For Trial Of Man Charged With Murdering Dante Barksdale
But a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins University, who is serving as an expert witness for the plaintiffs, concluded that asphyxiation was the cause of Black’s death.