Tawon Boyd called 911 for help on Sept. 18, 2016. After ending up in a physical struggle with the Baltimore County police officers who answered that call, he died in a hospital three days later. Now his family has filed a lawsuit against the police officers, a paramedic and an EMT who responded to that call for help.
The lawsuit—filed by Boyd’s mother, Martha Boyd, and the mother of his son, Deona Styron—alleges that officers used excessive force against the 21-year-old and that, combined with the antipsychotic drug given to him by paramedics, contributed to his death, the Baltimore Sun reports.
The complaint says, “[T]hese individual police officer defendants assaulted and battered Tawon Boyd while he was restrained by handcuffs and in custody resulting in his severe injuries and trauma to his body contributing to his death, and otherwise used excessive force and unwarranted force.”
The suit names as defendants Officers Michael Bowman, D. Garland, Pearin D. Holt, Bryn M. Blackburn and Andrew Seckens, as well as paramedic Tyler Armstrong and EMT Kenneth Burns.
It further alleges that the medical team violated state law by giving Boyd the antipsychotic drug Haldol, which it says caused him to go into cardiac arrest and organ failure.
A. Dwight Pettit, an attorney for the family, told the Sun, “After some investigation, we decided that there were two basic reasons for Mr. Boyd’s death: one, the beating that he incurred, and two, the medical treatment that he received.”
Pettit noted that Boyd was the one who called for help, and added, “The irony about this case is that he was not in any way violent.” The attorney also said that Boyd wasn’t doing anything that warranted a violent response.
Originally, police said it was Styron who called 911 at around 3 a.m. on Sept. 18, but Boyd was later identified as the caller.
When police arrived, they said that Boyd was sweating profusely and “appeared to be consumed and paranoid.” Styron told the responding officers that Boyd had been drinking, smoking marijuana and “acting crazy.” The officers claimed that their attempts to talk to Boyd were met with screams, and that instead of complying with their orders, he attempted to get into police cars.
The lawsuit denies claims that Boyd was agitated or violent toward police officers. It says that Officers Garland, Seckens and Bowman grabbed Boyd and “threw him to the ground and tackled him.”
The three officers allegedly punched and kicked Boyd while he was down, and when he “accidentally swatted” Bowman’s radio and badge, the officer repeatedly punched him in the face.
The complaint then says that medical personnel arrived at 3:38 p.m., and it was then that Armstrong administered the antipsychotic that is said to have caused Boyd to go into cardiac arrest and organ failure.
According to the Baltimore Sun, an autopsy determined that Boyd’s death was accidental and likely caused by drugs. The drug N-ethylpentylone, commonly known as “bath salts,” was found in his body.
It was determined to be “unlikely that restraint by law enforcement caused or significantly contributed to his death.”
The lawsuit—which cites numerous instances of excessive use of force by Baltimore County Police, including the death of Korryn Gaines in 2016—asks for $5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.
Read more at the Baltimore Sun.