Family and friends of Tawon Boyd held a vigil outside of his home in Middle River on Friday. Boyd died on Wednesday following an altercation with police.
Family and friends of Tawon Boyd held a vigil outside of his home in Middle River on Friday. Boyd died on Wednesday following an altercation with police. (John Fritze)

Family members say things changed for Tawon Boyd when his son was born three years ago: He picked up more steady work and seemed to be putting his life together.

As they gathered for a vigil outside Boyd's home in Middle River on Friday, the people who knew the 21-year-old Baltimore native best chose to remember him walking his son, also named Tawon, along the sidewalk here — instead of his altercation with police on Sunday that put him in the hospital.


Boyd died Wednesday at Franklin Square Medical Center.

"He worked, he came home, he took care of his family," said Melissa Bahner, a 37-year-old Glen Burnie woman who said she had known Boyd since he was in elementary school. "Whatever he was going through that night was not regular."

Several dozen family members and friends — who referred to Boyd as "Taytay" — lit candles on the sidewalk near his home and held balloons. Some directed anger at Baltimore County police, and shouted, "Justice for Taytay!"

Others expressed disbelief that Boyd, who many described as a quiet young man, was gone.

"After he had his son, he really tried to get himself together," said Boyd's uncle, Prinice Thomas, a 55-year-old Baltimore man. "It's not like he was in trouble or a bad guy."

The incident happened at a time when police nationwide are under heightened scrutiny for interactions with citizens, particularly in African-American communities. Protesters have been marching in Charlotte, N.C., this week since the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday.

The Baltimore County police and fire departments are conducting an administrative review of the Boyd incident, and the state medical examiner will conduct an autopsy, county officials said this week. A spokeswoman said there were no updates in the case Friday.

Police said officers were called to Boyd's home about 3 a.m. Sunday. Family members said Boyd had just returned from a late movie.

At the home, police said, Boyd and his girlfriend, Deona Styron, were yelling at each other. Styron, who is pregnant with Boyd's second child, told officers Boyd had been drinking and smoking marijuana, police said.

Police said it was Boyd who called 911. When an officer who arrived at the scene tried to speak with Boyd, he "started running and screaming," according to a police report. He then tried to get into a police car. Officers ran across the street to stop Boyd, who started yelling for someone to call the police, according to the report.

Three officers tried to calm Boyd but could not, the report said, and they attempted to take him into custody. An officer grabbed Boyd's arm, but police said he pulled away. The officers ordered Boyd to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back, but police said Boyd did not comply.

Police then forced Boyd to the ground, but he "continued to push, kick and flail," then kicked two officers, according to police. An officer then struck Boyd twice in the face with a closed fist, the report said.

The police report said officers requested a medic for Boyd's injuries from the encounter with police. One medic administered something to Boyd, but the specifics of the treatment were redacted in the police report.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.