On September 15, 2018, 19-year-old black man Anton Black died in his front yard in Maryland after police held him down for six minutes. His mother was watching from the door, and now she’s determined to let the world know how her son died at the hands of police officers. His father has said that his son was “George Floyd before George Floyd.”
911 had been called because Anton was spotted roughhousing with a 12-year-old boy, who he had known for years. Anton Black was reportedly dragging the younger boy down the road in a headlock. When officers arrive, body cam footage recorded the boy telling police that Anton had been acting strangely as of late, and claimed he was “schizophrenic.”
The circumstances of Anton’s death are disturbing
When police arrived at the scene, Officer Thomas Webster IV ordered Anton to put his hands behind his back because he was under arrest. Instead of doing so, Anton said “I love you” and ran back to his yard where he jumped into a car.
Officer Webster then broke the car window with his baton and then used a stun gun on Anton to subdue him. Anton continued to struggle until he was pinned down on his porch by three officers, two of which were off-duty. His mother Jenell had just opened the door and watched her son die on the porch.
Anton was held down for six minutes, and at one point he went limp and unconscious but the officers continued to restrain him.
“He’s at his mother’s doorstep. All he wanted to do was go home. He’s home and you don’t get off of him? That’s not right,” his father Antone tells Dateline in tonight’s episode. “He didn’t attack nobody. He didn’t rob a bank. He didn’t kill nobody.”
Anton had been struggling with mental health issues and had been hospitalized in the two weeks before his death. During his hospitalization he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Anton Black’s autopsy lists his cause of death as “congential heart condition, mental illness, and stress from the struggle.”
In contrast, a cardiologist who is an expert for the family’s in their excessive force lawsuit says “asphyxiation” is Anton’s cause of death.
This January (2022) a judge refused to throw out Anton Black’s family’s excessive force lawsuit, so it’s still moving forward. In her ruling, Judge Catherine Blake stated that the bodycam footage of the Anton’s death doesn’t “conclusively contradict” the family’s claim that excessive force was used on Anton by the police.
Last year Maryland lawmakers passed a bill that expanded public access to police disciplinary case records. The bill was named after Anton Black.
Officer Thomas Webster IV’s background
The on-duty officer at the scene of Anton Black’s death, Thomas Webster IV, had a previous incident in 2013 where he kicked the face of Lateef Dickerson during a police response to a find in Delaware.
Once a video of the violence got out into the public space, Thomas Webster faced an assault charge and a lawsuit. He was acquitted of the assault charge but gave Lateef Dickerson a settlement of $300,000 in the civil suit.
Below is the video of Webster kicking Dickerson.
Webster was let go from the Dover, Delaware police department, but he was given a severance and resignation package of $230,000 over the course of six years in exchange for never working for the Dover, Delware government again.
When he was hired by Greensboro Police Department in Maryland, many local leaders objected to him joining the police force.