A 21-year-old Maryland man died while in police custody after he was acting “crazy,” according to his fiancee. On September 19, police were called to an address in Middle River after a disturbance report. There, officers found Tawon Boyd, 21, acting “crazy, according to his fiancee. The police report in the incident said that Boyd had been drinking and smoking marijuana. Baltimore County public safety spokeswoman Elise Armacost told WBAL-TV, “What we need to look at here is the entire incident in detail. There will be a thorough investigation so we can make sure this was within policy and the officers behaved as they should.” Boyd died on September 22 after three days in custody.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Officers Say Boyd Had a Pulse When He Was Taken Into Custody
The police report in the case indicates that Boyd’s fiancee, Deona Styron, called 911 and that on the call, a man and a woman could be heard yelling at each other. When officers arrived, Boyd was sweating and seemed to be confused. After he saw police, officers said that Boyd began banging on neighbor’s doors while saying, “Help. Call the police.”
The report also says that the responding officers tried to talk to Boyd and wanted to take him to a nearby hospital. The document adds that Boyd became physical with the cops and that he refused to put his hands behind his head and surrender. An ambulance was called to the scene by officers. Three cops received minor injuries during the struggle. The report says, “Boyd tried to break free from his restraints while four officers held him down.” While another officer said that he punched Boyd twice because the Boyd was hanging to him.
A responding medic tried to give Boyd medication to try to get him to calm down. That type of medication has been redacted from the report.
Officers said that Boyd had a pulse when he was taken into custody. He was then taken to MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center.
2. His Family’s Lawyer Says Police ‘Beat Him Into Intensive Care’
Speaking to CBS Baltimore, Boyd’s fiancee Deona Styron said:
He on the ground, 5 other officers on top of him, and not only that, one police officer got his arm around his neck like this, punching him, punching, him and throughout the whole thing he’s like I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.
He said he couldn’t breathe, and not only that, after the ambulance got there, he was still on the ground for 20 minutes, and when they lifted him up to put him on the stretcher he was unconscious, dangling.
His grandmother, Linda Burch, meanwhile gave her view of events to the Baltimore Sun:
He was just hollering and screaming on the ground, and they just kept pushing him down, pushing him down, on his shoulder and back and stuff, hitting him.
He was trying to get them off of him.
I kept telling them stop before they hurt him because I told them they could kill him like that. They told me to go across the street before they lock me up.
However, Burch also said that Boyd “was acting kind of strange, like he was on something.” The family has retained an attorney, Latoya Francis-Williams, told the Sun, “Mr. Boyd was in need of medical attention, and the police responded with violence. The police beat him into intensive care, and now he’s no longer with us.”
3. Boyd Is Survived By His Son & Fiancee
According to his Facebook page, Boyd is survived by his fiancee and their 3-year-old son Tyan. He’s a graduate of Carver Voc Tech High School and is originally from Baltimore. Boyd had been together with his fiancee since December 2011.
At the time of his death, Boyd was living in the West Baltimore neighborhood of the city. His brother, Antwan, kept vigil on his brother via Facebook.
Boyd’s younger sister wrote on Facebook, “Please pray for my big brother. Plz save him God.”
4. His Case Is Gaining Attention on Social Media
As news of Boyd’s death spread, his case began to get attention on Twitter as the hashtag “TawonBoyd” began to trend. Many of the tweets dispute the official story and say that Boyd called 911 over a break-in. Here are some of the most poignant messages:
5. Boyd’s Death Comes Amid Rioting & Protests in Charlotte Over the Shooting of Keith Lamont Scott
Boyd’s death comes after another night of extreme unrest in the city of Charlotte following the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott in the city on September 20. NBC News reports that the protests resulted in a state of emergency being called in the city. Companies such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America told employees to work from home on the day after the protests.
CNN reports that the black officer who shot Scott, Officer Brentley Vinson, was not wearing a body camera at the time of the killing.