Partial Legal Settlement Over 2018 Killing of Maryland Teen Targets Police Reforms

August 12, 2022
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Family members of Anton Black and the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black announced they have resolved part of their federal court litigation charging police and municipal officials in three Maryland communities with the unconstitutional killing of the Black teenager in 2018.

The settlement focuses on implementing reforms aimed at curbing police excess force.

In addition to the reforms, the family with receive $5 million in monetary damages from the police and municipal defendants.

The19-year-old died on Sept. 15, 2018, after being restrained by three officers from the Centreville, Greensboro and Ridgley police departments. According to lawsuit filed in federal district court in Baltimore, the officers tased Black, held him face down for about six minutes, and restrained his legs and arms.

In December 2020, Anton’s family and the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Baltimore, challenging Black’s killing as discriminatory and unconstitutional, and charging various police, municipal and state officials both in taking part and in conspiring to cover up wrongful actions by police.

Among those sued and now settling are officer Thomas Webster, formerly of the Greensboro police; Dennis Lannon, a former Centreville police officer; and former Greensboro Police Chief Michael Petyo and former Ridgley Police Chief Gary Manos.

The state’s medical examiner’s office and medical examiners David Fowler and Russell Alexander are also defendants in the litigation but are not parties to this settlement. This litigation over an alleged cover-up is continuing.

Reforms required under the settlement include overhaul of use of force policies for the three municipalities, additional resources for police confronting mental health emergencies, officer training in de-escalation, intervention and implicit bias, hiring transparency, and public complaint reporting.

The Coalition for Justice said these changes build on “noteworthy reforms” already achieved through advocacy by the family and the Coalition, including a statewide law bearing Anton’s name that opens disciplinary records in police misconduct cases, as well as investigations resulting in the criminal conviction for misconduct in office of one responsible police chief, and decertification from police work of another of the involved officers.

“I hope the reforms within the police departments will save lives and prevent any family from feeling the pain we feel every day,” said Jennell Black, mother of Anton Black, who saw the police officers kill her son and was held back from going to him while he pleaded for his life.

On September 15, 2018, White police officers from the three different municipalities chased, tased, pinned, and ultimately, killed Black on his mother’s front steps. According to court documents, officers pressed down on his face, chest, and stomach for six minutes, causing him to die by positional asphyxiation, while his mother was held back, looking on in horror.

Topics Law Enforcement Maryland

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