Who was Anton Black? Father of teen killed by cops in 2018 says he was 'George Floyd before George Floyd'

The family of a 19-year-old black man who died in police custody in Maryland in 2018 says his death was 'unreal and unnecessary'


                            Who was Anton Black? Father of teen killed by cops in 2018 says he was 'George Floyd before George Floyd'
Anton Black (L) was murdered by the cops in 2018 in the same way as George Floyd (R)(Credits: video screenshot/Dateline and @FictionRumble/Twitter)
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In the year 2018, a nineteen-year-old black man was murdered by white police officers who held the teen to the ground for six minutes outside his family's home in rural Greensboro and two years later George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota in a similar manner. Black died on September 15, 2018, after an altercation with Greensboro police on his mother's front porch.

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In January 2022, US District Judge Catherine Blake refused to dismiss the family's lawsuit alleging police used excessive force on Black. In her 27-page decision, Blake stated that the bodycam footage of the fatal encounter does not conclusively contradict the family's claims that police used excessive force on Black. A one-hour-long documentary will be streamed on NBC Dateline at 10pm, on August 5 that will outline a year-long investigation into Black's death and the parallels to Floyd's murder.

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"My son was George Floyd before George Floyd," his father, Antone Black, told NBC Dateline. "I seen him begging for his life. You know, He's hollering 'Mommy'. They never moved. They never got off of him." 

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How did Anton Black die?

According to body camera footage from the incident, former officer Thomas Webster IV confronted the teen after responding to a 911 call reporting a man dragging a child down the road in a headlock. When Webster told him to put his hands behind his back and that he was being arrested, Black said, 'I love you.' He then turned around, jogged back to his family's house, and got into his car. Webster destroyed the car window with a baton before shocking Black with a stun gun. Later, a fight broke out on the front porch, DailyMail reported. Check out the bodycam footage of Black struggling with cops, here.

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Webster and two other cops, former Ridgley police Chief Gary Manos and Centreville police Officer Dennis Lannon, attempted to restrain Black (Credit: video screenshot from footage/DailyMail)
Webster and two other cops, former Ridgley police Chief Gary Manos and Centreville police Officer Dennis Lannon, attempted to restrain Black (Credit: video screenshot/DailyMail)

Webster and two other cops, former Ridgley police Chief Gary Manos and Centreville police officer Dennis Lannon, attempted to restrain Black. Manos and Lannon were off duty when they attempted to assist Webster in apprehending Black. ''It just seemed so unreal and unnecessary to me,'' family friend Christina Robinson told Dateline. ''When I saw him go limp in the video, they still didn't get off of him.''

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In 2019, an autopsy report on Black's death was released, two days after Maryland Governor Larry Hogan expressed dissatisfaction with the investigation's pace. According to the autopsy report, Black's death was an accident, and his congenital heart condition, mental illness, and stress from the struggle all likely contributed to his death. However, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins University who was cited in the family's lawsuit concluded that asphyxiation was the cause of Black's death.

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Webster destroyed the car window with a baton before shocking Black with a stun gun (Credits: video screenshot of the footage/DailyMail)
Webster destroyed the car window with a baton before shocking Black with a stun gun (Credits: video screenshot /DailyMail)

Dr David Fowler, Maryland's chief medical examiner until his retirement in 2019 and responsible for the accuracy and integrity of Black's autopsy, testified as an expert for the defense in Derek Chauvin's murder trial. Robinson blames the police for Black's death, but he is aware that many members of their white community supported the officers. ''Has it split the community?'' NBC anchor Lester Holt probed. ''Along racial lines?'' ''It definitely did,'' Robinson responded.

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The death of Black fueled calls for an independent investigation. Last year, state lawmakers passed a bill named after Black that increased public access to police disciplinary case records. Although Black's death was tragic, Jason Johnson, president of The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, told Dateline that he didn't see "any indication of malice" in the body camera footage and thought it demonstrated "the professional standard." Many have questioned Webster's actions, particularly given his history of using force on suspects who were already subdued. However, no charges were filed against Webster in connection to Black's death.

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In 2022, US District Judge Blake pointed out that Black's mental health must be a factor for Webster's use of force as Black was diagnosed with a severe form of bipolar disorder and was hospitalized less than two weeks before his death. According to the Greensboro Police Department's rule book, Webster did not try to de-escalate or avoid overreacting to someone in the grip of a mental health crisis when he smashed the car window and used the stun gun on Black.

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