Death of Middle River man Tawon Boyd after police confrontation ruled accidental

Tawon Boyd, a 21-year-old Baltimore County man, has died after allegedly fighting with police in Middle River early Sunday morning.
Tawon Boyd, a 21-year-old Baltimore County man, has died after allegedly fighting with police in Middle River early Sunday morning.(Family photo via WJZ / Handout)

The death of a Middle River man days after an encounter with Baltimore County police and fire personnel in September has been ruled accidental.

Tawon Boyd, 21, called 911 for help on Sept. 18 and ended up in a physical struggle with police officers.


He died at a hospital three days later, and his family has questioned how first responders handled the situation.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Boyd's death was likely caused by drugs. Boyd died Sept. 21 after suffering multiple organ failure, examiners wrote in an autopsy report.

"It is unlikely that restraint by law enforcement caused or significantly contributed to his death based on the reported circumstances and timeline of the restraint," examiners wrote. "Since his death most likely followed from complications of intoxication with a drug (N-Ethylpentylone), the manner of death is best certified as accident."

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration classifies N-Ethylpentylone as a type of synthetic cathinone. Synthetic cathinones, commonly referred to as "bath salts," are unregulated, mind-altering substances, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner issued the ruling this month, spokesman Bruce Goldfarb said.

County police and fire officials declined to comment Wednesday.

Baltimore attorney A. Dwight Pettit, who is representing Boyd's family, said questions remain about the medical care provided by emergency personnel. He said he plans to have an independent expert review Boyd's autopsy report and hospital records.

"We think that there's obviously something wrong here, beyond question, that somebody that calls to reach out for help ends up dead," Pettit said.


Pettit said witnesses described Boyd as suffering "some kind of emotional or psychotic episode."

Officers called to Boyd's home on Akin Circle about 3 a.m. Sept. 18 said they found him sweating heavily and appearing confused and paranoid. His girlfriend said he had been drinking and smoking marijuana and was acting "crazy."

When officers tried to talk to Boyd, they said in a police report, he began screaming and tried to get into police cars. He yelled, "Help, call the police!"

Officers said Boyd did not comply with their orders. They forced Boyd to the ground and restrained him.

One officer punched him twice in the face as Boyd held onto him, police said. Officers called medics to the home.

Medical examiners said the emergency workers believed Boyd was in an "excited delirium state" and administered the antipsychotic medication Haldol.


Boyd calmed down, but then went into cardiac arrest, examiners said. He was revived by cardiopulmonary resuscitation and taken to the hospital.

Scans of Boyd's head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis did not show any fractures, examiners said.

"[Boyd's] presentation in an excited delirium-like state with subsequent cardiac arrest likely developed as a consequence of intoxication with N- Ethylpentylone," examiners wrote.

No officers were wearing body cameras during the encounter, police have said.