Maryland’s Board of Public Works awarded the family of the slain 19-year-old Anton Black $235,000 on Wednesday, Nov. 8, regarding the lawsuit against the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
According to the Board of Public Works meeting agenda, $100,000 will go to Black’s family and estate. Additionally, $135,000 will go toward the lawyers representing the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black.
Along with the settlement came explicit reforms that the OSME would need to implement, including how medical examiners conduct deaths in custody.
The updated reforms ensure that the OSME complies with the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) standards and that medical examiners perform impartial investigations and are transparent with their results. They also prohibit non-OSME personnel from providing input “about the autopsy, inspection or examination.”
Last year, in August 2022, Black’s family settled their lawsuit against the police and municipal officials involved in the 2018 killing of Black for $5 million.
“This settlement is an excellent first step, but as we engage in this new process, community members must stay vigilant and engaged to make sure it’s effective,” Richard Potter, founder of the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black, said. “The best frontline approach to eliminating harm is increasing accountability within.”
Potter continued, “That is why I hope that with this settlement, agencies will begin to recognize their own wrongdoing, catch them and change them before they cause harm. What is needed is a sense of shared ownership that can only come through trust and mutual accountability, with police confronting their own biases about mental illness, committing to de-escalation, and truly serving a diverse community.”
On Sept. 15, 2018, white police officers from distinct municipalities on the state’s Eastern Shore chased, tased and pinned Black on his mother’s front steps, according to Maryland’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
A white civilian donning a Confederate motorcycle helmet joined the officers in torturing the 19-year-old, who cried out to his mother, Jennell Black.
Police and the man pressed Black’s chest, face and stomach to the ground for six minutes before his demise, caused by positional asphyxiation. He told his mother that he loved her before dying.
The family’s lawsuit against the Maryland Medical Examiners stemmed from them ruling his death an accident instead of homicide after police made false accusations about drug abuse.