Baltimore man dies after being ‘attacked’ by police
Tawon Boyd died at the age of 21 on Wednesday. While the autopsy is still pending, his attorney claims that brain swelling along with kidney and heart failure all contributed to his death. All three things can theoretically be attributed to blunt force trauma, which witnesses believe he incurred while the police roughly subdued him.
Tawon Boyd called the police last Wednesday while having an argument with his girlfriend, Deona Styron. Officers responded to his emergency call, requesting an ambulance, citing that he felt disoriented and needed to go to the hospital, attorney Latoya Francis-Williams said in a statement.
“They really were supposed to be there to get him to the nearest healthcare facility,” Francis-Williams wrote.
However, when police found him, he was described in reports as “confused and paranoid” while he claimed that his girlfriend “got him intoxicated and is secretly recording him while someone else is in the home,” the police report read.
The report claims that Boyd tried to climb into two police vehicles and then began pounding on his neighbor’s doors and demanded that they call the police. “It was obvious suspect Boyd was under the influence of a narcotic and/or suffering [REDACTED] and needed to be taken to the hospital for emergency evaluation,” the report read.
At this point, police began to physically subdue him. Witnesses claimed seeing Officer Bowman approach Boyd and then “really started wailing” on Boyd while he was in a prone position on the ground.
Witnesses claimed to see Bowman straddle Boyd’s back and use one arm to put Boyd’s face into a chokehold position. While the police report claims that “officers were able to get him under control by using our body weight to keep him on the ground. Officer Bowman controlled Suspect Boyd’s head and arms by holding him down with his arms while I held Suspect Boyd down by leaning on his buttocks/thigh area with my knees and using my arms,” witnesses report seeing a full-on attack.
Linda Burch, Boyd’s grandmother, lived with Boyd and was home on the night in question. She also reported seeing Boyd, “acting kind of strange, like he was on something,” the Baltimore Sun reported. But she also saw the police’s use of force on him and believes it was excessive.
“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 attempted to deescalate the situation but to no avail. “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.”
“He is literally attacked. And by attacked, I mean the witness [Styron] is describing that he [was] struck many times and struck to the ground,” Francis-Williams said.
Three officers reported injuries from handling Boyd, while the exact details of the injuries have been redacted from the report, it does describe the report’s author as having been scratched by Boyd and accidentally kicking another officer while trying to stand.
When Boyd was placed in restraints, he was not subdued and had a drug administered by medics. NBC reported that he was given Haldol which is commonly used to handle psychiatric episodes, often administered by injection in a drug cocktail that is commonly known as “booty juice.”
The drug was so effective that Officer Bowman asked the medic to check his pulse according to the report. However, when he arrived at the hospital he was placed in intensive care where he died last Wednesday after three days.
It will take a month for his autopsy results to come back where it will be clearer whether the police’s use of force caused his death or if it was a pre-existing condition, use of drugs or drugs administered by the medics. In the meantime, Boyd’s family believes that the level of force used on him was unnecessary.
"Our position is that upon arrival the Baltimore County police officers believed he wasn't all there and it was their duty to protect him from himself, a third party and another officer," Francis-Williams said.
Additionally, his grandmother believes that with his 5’ 5” (1.65 meters) frame that carried 150 lbs (68 kg), officers did not need to use as much force as they did to subdue him, she told NBC.