Gov. Larry Hogan said he is pushing for answers for the family of Anton Black, an African-American teenager who died in police custody on the Eastern Shore.
The family of Black, 19, of Greensboro, has been seeking information about his death since his fatal encounter with local police in September. But they’ve yet to receive details from police investigators or the state medical examiner’s office about how their loved one died.
“We have no cause of death. We don’t have an M.E. report. We don’t have a death certificate,” said LaToya Holley, 37, Black’s sister, in an interview. “We haven’t even heard of the results of the toxicology. Nothing.”
Asked about the case Monday night by The Baltimore Sun at the State House, Hogan said he has taken a personal interest in the matter — and, like the family, he wants to know what happened.
“I’m very frustrated that we haven’t gotten answers yet,” Hogan, a Republican, said. “I’ve been pushing both the state police and the medical examiner to finish their investigation as quickly as they possibly can. … The family, the Police Department, the community, everyone deserves to get answers.”
State police say Black died after officers of the Greensboro Police Department arrested him Sept. 15 in Caroline County.
The encounter began after a Greensboro officer responded to what police say was a report of Black dragging a 12-year-old boy down a street. State police say the local officer got out of his vehicle and told Black to release the boy, which he did, and then place his hands behind his back for arrest.
Police said Black instead ran from the officer. The officer and two others who came to the scene chased him to his home in a trailer park, police said.
There, police said, they shocked him with Taser, and attempted to restrain him. Police said Black resisted arrest, biting two officers and hitting one officer in the face. Eventually, officers put Black in handcuffs and ankle restraints.
Police said they then realized Black was showing signs of medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance and provided medical assistance. Black was taken to Easton Memorial Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Police said it was not immediately clear what caused his death.
State police investigators are continuing to review body camera footage and conducting interviews with witnesses. Greg Shipley, spokesman for the Maryland State Police, said the agency’s homicide unit has been assigned to the case at the request of the Greensboro Police Department.
“State Police homicide investigators are conducting a full, detailed investigation of this death,” Shipley said in an email.
Shipley said state police investigators are awaiting the results of the autopsy being conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Bruce Goldfarb, a spokesman for the medical examiner’s office, declined to comment.
“We can’t discuss cases that are under investigation,” he said.
Holley said her family has been suffering since Black’s death. She said her brother was a star athlete at North Caroline High School and a budding model. Black had enrolled in Wesley College in Dover, Del., to study criminal justice with hopes of becoming a police officer, she said.
“Losing him has been the most difficult thing we’ve ever had to deal with,” Holley said. “We’ve been trying to get answers about what happened to him.”
She said she’s encouraged that Hogan has taken a personal interest in the case.
“That actually means a lot to our family to have someone in his position actually looking into it,” Holley said. “We fought so hard to get the word out about what happened to him. We’re happy to see that he’s going to take it seriously and, hopefully, help us get some answers and get justice for Anton.”
Hogan said he’ll continue to press state investigators until more is known.
“I’m doing everything within my power to light a fire under everyone involved to make sure they immediately complete this investigation, so we can find out the facts and get to the truth and then take whatever actions are necessary,” Hogan said.