By BRAD BELL, WJLA
GREENSBORO, Md. (CIRCA via WJLA) — On Wednesday, police showed Circa partner WJLA body-camera footage of the struggle that led to the death of 19-year-old Anton Black in September in the small eastern Maryland town of Greensboro.
For months, Black's family demanded answers from investigators.
"We don’t have a cause of death," one of Black's sisters, Monique Sorrell, told WJLA on Wednesday. "We haven’t been given one."
Now, after pressure from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and the media, a final autopsy report has been released to the public.
The report concluded that Black died of sudden cardiac death and that he had a pre-existing heart defect in which bipolar disorder was a contributing factor. All tests for drugs in Black's system came back negative.
The chief medical examiner wrote in the report that the stress of the struggle contributed to Black's death, but there was no evidence he was asphyxiated because of police restraint. The manner of death is best certified as accident—a notion Black’s family has firmly rejected.
"There was nothing wrong with Anton. There was nothing wrong with our brother. He was a good man ... well-respected, well-liked by everyone who met him," said La Toya Holley, another sister of Black's.
Body-camera footage of the incident shows Black running from a police officer who was investigating a 911 call about a child abduction.
The officer finds Black in a car parked next to his parents' home, smashes the driver-side front window and then shoots a taser through the car, but it doesn’t slow Black down. Black then gets out of the car on the passenger side and runs up a ramp next to the home where there is a struggle between him and the officer whose body-camera footage was released, two other officers and a passing motorcyclist, according to The Baltimore Sun. They all end up on the ground.
As the struggle continues, officers wonder aloud if Black is on drugs and ask his mother, Jennell Black, who has stepped out of the home, about his mental state and if he takes any medicine.
Black's mother can be heard saying her son had been diagnosed with "mania." Then suddenly, Black goes limp. The police administer CPR, but he dies.
A use-of-force expert hired by a PR consultant for the Greensboro Police says he saw no excess force in the body-camera footage.
Attorneys for the family issued a statement Thursday night pointing out the autopsy also found 43 blunt-force trauma wounds, and while the autopsy concluded police never struck or choked him, the statement says, “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 for Anton Black to die.”
Maryland State's Attorney for Caroline County Joseph Riley will not take the case to a grand jury.
#Breaking The State's Attorney for Caroline County Maryland will not take the case of the death of #AntonBlack while in police custody to a grand jury. In a statement saying he is "not empowered to prosecute tragic acts" after autopsy concludes death was accidental @ABC7News— Brad Bell (@ABC7Brad) January 24, 2019
In a statement, Riley says he is "not empowered to prosecute tragic acts."
Black’s family doesn’t buy it.
"They murdered my son in front of me," Jennell Black said.
"They chased that boy ... and when they got him, they beat him," said Anton Black Sr., Black's father. "They lynched him. And they did it with their arms, not with rope, but they choked him to death. Something needs to be done about it."
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