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Circumstances of man's death while in police custody under investigation

Baltimore Police have launched a criminal investigation into Friday's in-custody death of a 46-year-old man in East Baltimore, who police initially said was believed to have died from choking on drugs. 

Relatives of the man and eyewitnesses have come forward to say the man, identified by family as Anthony Anderson, was assaulted by police. Police confirmed that they have interviewed those witnesses, and say a preliminary autopsy shows that the man did not die from choking on drugs. 

However, they the medical examiner has not yet determined whether he died from a drug overdose or some other type of injury. Anthony Guglielmi, the department's chief spokesman, said that the man had injuries, but did not have a neck injury, as some of the witnesses have claimed. 

"We have taken statements from witnesses that say he was beaten - we have those complaints, and we are investigating this as a criminal case," said Guglielmi. "He did not die of a broken neck, but we're not sure what the cause of death is. The medical examiner's office ... is waiting on toxicology findings before making a ruling."

The incident occurred at about 7:20 p.m. Friday at the intersection of East Biddle and North Montford streets. 

"There are some sharp differences between the accounts of the eyewitnesses and what we're hearing from the police," the Rev. C.D. Witherspoon, local leader of the Southern Leadership Christian Conference, told The Sun on Saturday

On Monday, Witherspoon said he was organized a news conference for Tuesday with Anderson's family to discuss the incident. "We're hearing that something physical happened - a physical confrontation between him and and police that was one-sided and police were the aggressors."

Guglielmi said the officers involved - who are assigned to the agency's Violent Crimes Impact Section, have been placed on administrative assignments. 

jfenton@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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