A law demanding transparency from police officers that was named after Anton Black, the 19-year-old from the Maryland’s Eastern Shore who died in police custody, is still lingering in the states General Assembly while another measure that Black’s family said is weaker is gaining momentum.
This prompted Black’s family to visit the capitol in Annapolis on Tuesday to both see what was holding up “Anton’s Law” and to voice concern about the other bill. They received support from Del. Gabriel Acevero, a Democrat from Montgomery County who sponsored the measure and who also questions why it is being shelved for the second law.
Del. Luke Clippinger, a Democrat from Baltimore, sponsored the second bill that recently passed in the House of Delegates, which mandates that police trial boards abide by the Open Meetings Act and release audio recordings from their hearings, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Although that legislation includes some measures from “Anton’s Law,” including requiring police agencies to release information about previous complaints against an officer following a person’s death in police custody, it stops short of many of the requirements outlined in Anton’s Law.
Acevero and Black’s family want a law requiring police turn over additional information — such as autopsy reports, body camera footage, and a complete file of all accusations against an officer, reported The Sun.
“It is not as far as we need to go,” Acevero told The Sun in an interview, commenting on Clippinger’s bill. “We will be unrelenting in our advocacy, and we’re demanding a vote. The family deserves a vote. The community deserves a vote.”
After Black died in police custody, his family waited over four months to get basic documents from police. “Anton’s Law” would mandate Maryland State Police create a standard process for residents to lodge complaints against officers and to receive copies of all prior complaints filed against that same officer.
LaToya Holley, Black’s sister, encouraged delegates to keep “Anton’s Law” from falling “to the wayside.”
“Please vote yes for ‘Anton’s Law,’ ” Holley said, according to The Sun. “This is going to continue to happen until we do something to change it and we need to change it now.”
Black was killed last September in the small town of Greensboro in Caroline County, Maryland. His death immediately prompted his family, friends and civil rights activists to question how he died while in police custody, following a stop by the Greensboro Police Department.
After months of trying to get answers, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan got involved. Hogan told The Sun he’d taken a personal interest in the case and would get to the bottom of what transpired. After Hogan’s involvement, the state medical examiner released an autopsy report to the family that said Black went into “sudden cardiac death” as a likely result of struggling with law enforcement.
Greensboro police put the officer responsible for Black’s death on administrative leave and state public safety officials probed how he was even allowed to become an officer when his state personnel records didn’t include his full work history that would have shown prior complaints.