A 21-year-old black man was pronounced dead on Wednesday after an altercation with county police officers who repeatedly punched him as they responded to a call for an ambulance.
According to the Baltimore County police department, officers were responding to a 911 call placed by the victim’s girlfriend. As it turns out, it was actually Tawon Boyd who made the call.
“They really were supposed to be there to get him to the nearest healthcare facility,” said Boyd’s family attorney, Latoya Francis-Williams.
The police department later contested that, saying, “Police originally thought the girlfriend was the caller because the information passed on to police from the dispatcher said ‘female yelling on the phone’.”
According to the police incident report: “The call stated that there is a female yelling in the background. 911 added that a female keeps saying ‘Tell them hurry up’.”
Boyd told officers that his girlfriend, Deona Styron, who lived with him, “got him intoxicated and is secretly recording him while someone else is in the home.”
The police report describes Boyd as “confused and paranoid.” According to the report, Boyd attempted to enter two police cars and then ran to a neighbor’s house and banged on the door, calling: “Help! Call the police!”
“It was obvious suspect Boyd was under the influence of a narcotic and/or suffering [REDACTED] and needed to be taken to the hospital for emergency evaluation,” the report said.
By the time medical emergency workers arrived on the scene to take Boyd to the hospital, he reportedly had physical injuries inflicted by police.
During the altercation with police, Boyd reportedly scratched an officer ‘s neck and accidentally kicked another officer, named Garland, “while trying to stand.” Boyd also grabbed a third officer’s face, according to police. That officer, Bowman, “delivered two closed fist strikes to the suspect’s face with his right fist”.
“He is literally attacked. And by attacked, I mean the witness [Styron] is describing that he [was] struck many times and struck to the ground,” Latoya Francis-Williams said.
“Officer Bowman is the one that when he arrived, really started wailing on Mr Boyd, meaning Mr Boyd was on the ground in a prone position and Bowman sat on him, almost straddled his back, and put his left arm under Boyd’s neck and pulled his head up in a choking fashion.”
Francis-Williams added: “According to the witness, Mr Boyd was screaming, ‘Stop, stop, I can’t breathe.’ That could have been from the choking but at the same time, officer Bowman is punching and striking Mr Boyd in the face and in the neck area.
“The witness described that after a little she’s screaming, ‘Stop,’ and Mr Boyd is kind of foaming at the mouth or spitting and his body goes limp.”
At some point, Officer Bowman asked a medic to check Boyd’s pulse. He reportedly did have an heartbeat prior to being transported.
An autopsy has not yet been released; however, Boyd’s family attorney said there was “swelling on the brain and fluid on the brain because the doctors attempted to drain that.”
“My understanding is his kidneys end up failing and at some point, his heart stops,” she said.