Maryland law enforcement leaders voted Wednesday to hold a hearing and decide whether to revoke the police certification of the Eastern Shore officer involved in the arrest and death of Anton Black.
The Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission decided during a closed-door session to proceed with the hearing. Officials say the “decertification hearing” will be conducted in private as well.
“It’s a personnel hearing, so nothing will be open,” said Renata Seergae, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
The commission is to discuss whether to revoke the certification of Greensboro Police Officer Thomas Webster IV. Webster has been on administrative leave from the small Eastern Shore department after he arrested Black in September while responding to reports of a kidnapping.
Body-camera footage shows Webster commanding Black to put his hands behind him, but the teen fled. Webster and two other officers chased Black to his parents’ home, where the teen got into a parked car, the footage shows. Webster uses his baton to break the car’s window and reaches in to shock Black with a Taser.
After a struggle, the officers force Black to the ground on a ramp outside his family’s home. Black shows signs of medical distress, and he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Medical examiners determined his death to be an accident, the result of “sudden cardiac death.” The autopsy says the struggle contributed to Black’s death. It notes an underlying heart condition and a mental illness as factors.
The controversial encounter drew attention to Webster. State officials learned his personnel records — including those documenting “use of force” — were omitted from the hiring application Greensboro police sent to the state for Webster to be certified as an officer in Maryland.
Greensboro Chief Mike Petyo left the department about two months ago. Petyo and Webster could not immediately be reached Wednesday.
Webster had been indicted on second-degree assault charges while working as an officer in Delaware. Dash-cam footage from that incident shows Webster kicking a black man in the head during a 2013 arrest. Webster was later found not guilty, according to news reports, and resigned with a $230,000 severance package.
These records were not included in the application sent to state authorities for review. His decertification hearing has not been scheduled.
Black’s family went to Annapolis and urged lawmakers to pass “Anton’s Law.” The bill would have required police departments to release substantiated complaints against an officer involved in an in-custody death. The bill, however, did not pass.