Mike Preston's report card in Week 3
Crime

Tawon Boyd's family, attorneys question why fatal force was used during 'medical crisis'

The attorneys for a Baltimore County man who died following a struggle with police questioned why officers used fatal force while responding to a call the family says was for a "medical crisis."

Attorney A. Dwight Pettit said Tawon Boyd, 21, called 911 on Sunday requesting medical personnel, but instead ended up in a violent confrontation with police officers at his Middle River home.

Boyd was injured and taken to Franklin Square Hospital, where he died Wednesday afternoon.

"It makes one wonder what policies and procedures the county and the Police Department might have when there's a medical crisis," Pettit said Thursday.

The Baltimore County police and fire departments are conducting an administrative review of the incident, and the state medical examiner will conduct an autopsy, the county said Thursday.

Police initially said Boyd's girlfriend called 911 to report he was acting "crazy." But on Thursday, the department said Boyd was the caller. Police said they originally thought the girlfriend was the caller because information from the dispatcher said: "female yelling on the phone."

A second 911 call placed about 20 minutes later consisted "mostly of screaming and other noise," said police, adding it was unclear who placed that call.

Latoya Francis-Williams, another attorney for the family, said Boyd "was simply confused, [there was] never any allegation he was acting out" or a danger to anyone, including himself.

"I'm kind of at a loss for words. I just want my son back," said Boyd's mother, Martha Boyd, who spoke briefly at the news conference at Pettit's office. "They could've tased him. They could've maced him. They could've helped. He called for help."

Pettit likened the police response to Boyd to the fatal shooting in August of Korryn Gaines by a Baltimore County police officer. Gaines, 23, was fatally shot following an hours-long standoff with police, prompting criticism from Gaines' family and others who said the incident could have been resolved peacefully.

The county state's attorney's office announced Wednesday there would be no charges filed against the officer who shot Gaines.

Pettit said the family is awaiting Boyd's autopsy, which he called a "a crucial piece of evidence," along with the police report and witnesses statements.

Officers were called about 3 a.m. Sunday to Boyd's home in the first block of Akin Circle, according to the police report. At the home, police said Boyd and his girlfriend, Deona Styron, were screaming at each other, and that Boyd kept yelling, "There is someone in the house you need to go inside and search!"

Officer Seckens, who wrote the report, said Boyd was sweating heavily and "appeared to be consumed and paranoid." (The county releases only the last names of officers involved in incidents, according to an agreement struck with the police union.)

Styron told the officers that Boyd had been drinking and smoking marijuana, the report said.

When an officer tried to speak to Boyd, he "started running and screaming," the report said, and he tried to get into a marked police car through the driver's-side door, and then into a second police car. Officers ran across the street to stop Boyd, who started yelling for someone to call the police.

Three officers at the scene tried to calm Boyd to take him in for an evaluation but could not, the report said, prompting them to try to take him into custody. Officer Garland grabbed Boyd's arm, but Boyd pulled away. The officers ordered Boyd to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back, but they said he did not comply with the orders, according to the report.

Officer Bowman grabbed Boyd, and the officers forced him to the ground, but Boyd "continued to push, kick and flail," and then kicked one officer in the head and Officer Bowman in the face.

Bowman then hit Boyd twice in the face with a closed fist, the report said. Bowman let go of Boyd, but police said he did not comply with the officers' order to get on the ground.

The report said medics were requested because of Boyd's injuries from Bowman's blows. Two more officers, Holt and Blackburn, arrived at the scene. Blackburn held Boyd's hands above his head, while Holt grabbed some flex cuffs and placed them on Boyd's feet to keep him from kicking.

Medics arrived and after observing his behavior, one medic administered something to Boyd, but the treatment was redacted in the police report. Police officials said medical privacy laws prevented them from releasing it.

Pettit said he does not know what was given to Boyd.

Boyd's mother said that her son was working as a forklift operator and that he and Styron have a 3-year-old son together, and that Styron is pregnant with his second child.

"The way they're putting it, it's like he just attacked them," said Boyd's uncle, Prinice Thomas. "What they're saying is unbelievable."

"We was planning on having a wedding and a baby shower, not a funeral," Thomas said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Tim Prudente contributed to this article.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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