A distraught 21-year-old Maryland man called 911 for help last Sunday, thinking an ambulance would transport him to the hospital, only for Baltimore County police to arrive and kill him.
It was a common scenario considering the number of people killed in this country after their family members call 911 for a medical emergency.
But Tawon Boyd’s case is unique in that he was the one who called 911 for help.
Baltimore County police, however, tried to spin the story by saying it was his girlfriend who called for help, which evidently was done to give the impression that Boyd was completely out of touch with reality and needed to die.
But Baltimore County police ended up admitted to lying when Boyd’s family confronted them with the truth.
From the news reports, it appears as if Boyd was having a mental episode or perhaps had ingested some drugs that did not set well with him. His girlfriend said that he had been drinking and smoking marijuana.
Neither scenario should justify his death, but it’s always a roll of the dice when you dial 911, even if it is a tax-funded service that is meant to help us.
According to initial accounts by the Baltimore County police department, officers were responding to a 911 call placed by Boyd’s girlfriend, Deona Styron. But a lawyer for Boyd’s family, Latoya Francis-Williams, told a different story. She said Boyd called 911 himself because he was feeling disoriented and needed an ambulance.
“They really were supposed to be there to get him to the nearest healthcare facility,” Francis-Williams said.
After being questioned on the discrepancy, the police department updated its account, 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 repeatedly asked officers to enter his home, the report said, and asked a neighbor to call the police. Boyd told officers that Styron, who lived with him, “got him intoxicated and is secretly recording him while someone else is in the home”. The author of the police report described Boyd as “confused and paranoid”. Boyd asked officers to go into the house and find out who was inside.
Police said Boyd tried to enter two police vehicles, which evidently made the cops fear for their lives because they then pounced on him and punched him repeatedly while piling on top of him.
But even after they did that, they said he would not comply, so they became even more aggressive.
And even after his grandmother, Linda Burch, told the cops to ease up on him, police ordered her to leave the area under threat of arrest, according 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,” Burch said. “He was trying to get them off of him.”
Burch said she and Boyd’s girlfriend were afraid he would be seriously hurt.
“I kept telling them stop before they hurt him because I told them they could kill him like that,” she said. “They told me to go across the street before they lock me up.”
Boyd remained alive for three days before he passed away at a hospital. An attorney for his family said he died of heart and kidney failure.
The Baltimore County Attorney’s Office said it would not file charges against the officers who killed him, whose last names are Bowman, Sickens and Garland, according to the Baltimore Sun.
However, the investigation should be far from complete considering the autopsy is not complete nor have all witnesses statements been collected.
Boyd, who was working as a forklift operator, had a 3-year-old son with his girlfriend, who was pregnant with a second child.
They were planning on getting married.
“The way they’re putting it, it’s like he just attacked them,” Boyd’s uncle, Prince Thomas, told the Baltimore Sun. “What they’re saying is unbelievable.”
“We was planning on having a wedding and a baby shower, not a funeral,” Thomas said.