Anton Black case: Greensboro police release body-camera footage

Greensboro Police Chief Mike Petyo provided a link Thursday night to The Baltimore Sun of police body-camera footage from the fatal encounter between police and 19-year-old Anton Black on Sept. 15.

The video shows Black being approached after a report of a kidnapping. Black had been with a 12-year-old child who relatives said was a close friend, part of the family and someone who was not in danger.

Coverage of the in-custody death of Anton Black »

In the video, Greensboro Officer Thomas Webster IV tells Black to put his hands behind him, but he runs, fleeing along Route 313.

Webster states on the video that the teenager is suffering from a mental illness health disorder.

The officer and two others — members of nearby police departments, who happened to be near the scene — chase Black to his parents’ home in a trailer park, along with a passing motorcyclist who joined in, the video shows.

Black goes into a family member’s car parked outside the mobile home.

There, per the video, Webster smashes the car’s window with his baton and shocks Black with a Taser in an attempt to restrain him.

It appears the Taser may not have worked, and Black climbs out of the passenger side of the car.

Officers struggle with him as he tries to go up a ramp to his family’s home, forcing him to the ground, with one officer appearing to lie across him. The civilian who joined in the chase assists the officers in restraining Black.

His mother, Jennell Black, steps out the front door of her home to see her son pinned down by multiple police officers.

“Anton!” she screams.

There is a cacophony of voices: Police say he’s under arrest; Black tells his mother that he loves her; she yells, “Anton, stop, baby.”

“I had him evaluated and he got let go last week,” his mother says. An officer says, “It’s not good. They won’t hold them. He needs help.”

Officers put him in handcuffs and leg shackles, and Black quickly shows signs of medical distress.

His mother asks: “Is he breathing?” The video shows him slumped over and not moving.

Officers call for an ambulance and begin performing CPR, the video shows. They administer Narcan, which is used to block the effects of opioids. They say this is a mental health emergency. Some officers on the scene speculate aloud that Black is on drugs, though that was not substantiated in the autopsy.

As the video rolls, Black’s pregnant girlfriend can be seen in the front yard, illuminated by flashing police lights.

Eventually, his shackles are removed.

Black is carried into an ambulance. His mother asks if he started breathing again.

“Not yet,” someone says. “They’re still working on him.”

Webster makes a call to his chief: “We get him into custody and he goes out,” he says. “...It turned into a real show.”

Black was taken to Easton Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy report prepared by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and released Wednesday to The Baltimore Sun deemed his death an “accident,” saying he suffered “sudden cardiac death” and it is likely that his struggle with law enforcement contributed. An underlying heart condition and a mental illness were factors in Black’s death, according to the report.

Attorneys for the family released a statement Thursday: “There was no good reason for these officers to inflict this degree of force on Anton Black, or even to arrest him.

“There was no reason to tase him. There was no reason for the officer to tackle him, restrain him and shackle him. There was no reason to inflict 43 blunt trauma wounds on Anton Black,” the statement said. “There was no reason for Anton Black to die.”

A lawyer for the family, Timothy F. Maloney, said they would ask the Department of Justice’s civil rights division to review Black’s death.

But Thursday evening, Caroline County State’s Attorney Joseph Riley said that there was insufficient evidence to indict or present the case to a grand jury.

“I have an ethical obligation to only put cases in front of the grand jury that I believe are supported by probable cause,” Riley told The Sun. “It would be unethical of me to put a case in front of the grand jury without probable cause, believing that they would not return [an] indictment simply to remove pressure on myself or this office.”

trichman@baltsun.com

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