Accountability for Police Killing Anton Black

Police officers on Maryland's Eastern Shore killed Anton Black, a 19-year-old, on the afternoon of September 15, 2018. After being chased, tased, and pinned facedown by four white men, including a civilian wearing a Confederate motorcycle helmet, Anton pleaded, “Mommy, help” and told his mother he loved her as the officers forced his slight frame down and pressed his face, chest, and stomach to the ground for six minutes, causing him to die by positional asphyxiation.

Anton Black

On December 17, 2020, Anton Black’s family and the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Baltimore, charging an unconstitutional police killing and a cover-up involving a decertified officer with a long record of abuse, two Eastern Shore police chiefs – one of whom has since pled guilty to criminal misconduct – three small towns, and the State Medical Examiner.

PARTIAL SETTLEMENT: Family members and the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black announced on Friday, August 12, a resolution of the portion of their federal court litigation charging police and municipal officials with the unconstitutional killing of their beloved son in 2018.

Learn more about the lawsuit:

Black et al v. Webster lawsuit case page


WHAT HAPPENED TO ANTON BLACK?

Anton Black's face is shown close up on the left. He is a Black 19-year-old who was killed by police. On the right is a photo of a group of protesters of a range of races, with text over the image. Text says, "What Happened to Anton Black - Dateline."

WATCH THE NBC DATELINE SPECIAL

NBC Dateline anchor Lester Holt hosted, "What Happened to Anton Black?", a report on Anton Black—a 19-year-old Black man who died in 2018 after being taken into police custody in Maryland. To find out what happened to Anton, watch the full episode, “What Happened to Anton Black?” now.

You can watch the full video on NBC through your network television provider, Peacock, or on the NBC website. NBC requires viewers to sign up for a free acccount to watch online.


 

WATCH

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Anton Black Partial Settlement - Presser Highlights

The Anton Black family and Justice Coalition reached a milestone partial settlement.

Family members and the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black announced on Friday, August 12, a resolution of the portion of their federal court litigation charging police and municipal officials with the unconstitutional killing of their beloved son in 2018. The landmark Black et al v. Webster et al settlement goes far beyond most in police killing cases in that it focuses as much on implementing reforms aimed at saving other families from future police violence as it does on providing monetary relief. This stems from the deep dedication of the Black family and the Coalition to demanding accountability for the officials responsible for Anton’s killing and its cover up, and to working for reforms that will help save other families from the horrible grief they still suffer.

More in this series

READ & LISTEN

READ: Anton's Law went into effect in Maryland on October 1, 2021.

Anton’s Law/Maryland Public Information Act Reform (SB178)

Maryland State House in Annapolis has a bitmap treatment over it with pink and blue angled lines.

This law increases public access to information about police misconduct cases by allowing internal investigations and misconduct records of a police officer to be disclosable to the public.

This matters because it increases transparency in cases where bad officers have committed bad acts. Most importantly, this allows for victims of police violence, their families, and the public to hold agencies accountable for executing thorough investigations. It can also shine light on officers with a history of abuse which could prevent cases like the one of Anton Black, who was murdered by white officers in Greensboro, MD from ever occurring. One of those officers had a bad record of abusing Black people.

READ: Anton Black: Expectant Father, Aspiring Model and Actor, Former Champion Athlete

How his family and a coalition are suing those involved with the wrongful police killing of Anton Black.

Collage of pictures of Anton Black.

Like any 19-year-old college student, Anton Black had dreams. His were big ones.

He was a former champion athlete at North Caroline High School. As his father, Antone Black, says, he was one of the fastest boys in the state. His father always loved to see his son run.

Anton had his whole life ahead of him and he was open to all the possibilities, from enlisting in the military to his dreams of pursuing modeling and acting. Some of his dreams were just beginning to come true. Anton got to model at New York Fashion Week and even modeled for designers from California, Washington D.C., and New York. Once he finally landed a movie role, he practiced his lines over and over again with his Dad as a sounding board.

But Anton never did get to star in his first movie. He was killed before that could happen.

LISTEN: Coverup, Police Killing, and the Medical Examiner: Anton Black Should Still be Alive Today

Police officers on Maryland's Eastern Shore killed Anton Black, a 19-year-old Black teenager, on the afternoon of September 15, 2018.

Anton is wearing a blue patterned button up shirt and is looking to the right side of the picture with trees behind him.

Over two years later, the family and the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black are still fighting for justice for Anton Black.

To talk more about this we will speak with Antone Black, the father of Anton Black, Richard Potter, an educator and president of the Talbot County Branch of the NAACP, and Deborah Jeon, legal director for the ACLU of Maryland, about the impact they hope their legal challenge will have as part of the work to reimagine policing in Maryland.

READ: George Floyd and Anton Black: Parallel Lives

Dr. David Fowler, the chief medical examiner of Maryland, is set to testify in George Floyd’s case for justice.

Color drawing of Anton Black

Sadly, in 2018, he had declared that Anton Black’s killing was “accidental,” despite striking similarities between his killing and that of George’s.

In fact, there are many similarities between the lives of George Floyd and Anton Black.

LISTEN: The Derek Chauvin Verdict, Anton Black, and Protecting Black Lives

On April 20, 2021, the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial issued a guilty verdict on all three counts for the murder of George Floyd. However, one verdict is not justice – it’s simply accountability.

Hand-drawn protest sign says, "I can't breath. Anton Black."

However, one verdict is not justice – it’s simply accountability. Over 5,000 people were killed by police in the U.S. since 2015, including George Floyd and Anton Black, who were killed by police in eerily, terrifyingly similar ways.

We talked to LaToya Holley, the sister of Anton Black, Dayvon Love, Director of Public Policy for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle and Sonia Kumar, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Maryland, about the Derek Chauvin verdict, the work being done to get justice for Anton Black and what we must do to reform policing the create a system that values and protects Black lives.

READ: “He was everything. He loved his family. He was a family boy.”: Anton Black’s Murder by Police

On September 15, 2018, several white police officers and a white civilian forcefully used the weight of their bodies to pin 19-year-old Anton Black face down on the ground for six minutes, until he died of asphyxiation.

Anton Black is sitting on the hardwood floor and has photoshoot lights around him.

“The kids adored him,” said LaToya, Anton’s sister. “No matter how old or young they were. He would have been a great father.”

To add to the tragedy, when police murdered Anton he was an expectant father. Everyone described him as good with kids and a family boy. But he was killed before he could meet his daughter, Winter, who was born a few months later.

“She will never ever get to feel her father hold her or hug her or kiss her or try to make her feel better if she’s not having a good day,” said LaToya. “All of those opportunities have been stolen from his daughter.”