Md. attorney general moves to dismiss lawsuit claiming cover-up of Anton Black’s death

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit from the family of Anton Black claiming the medical examiner tried to cover up his death in his autopsy report.

Black, 19, died while in police custody on the Eastern Shore in September 2018. Black’s family filed a lawsuit last December saying the office did not release its findings in Black’s death until Gov. Larry Hogan intervened.

In a new motion to dismiss filed in Maryland District Court, the Attorney General’s office defends the actions of Dr. Russell Alexander, who performed the autopsy, former chief medical examiner Dr. David Fowler and current chief medical examiner Dr. Victor Weedn.

The general attorney’s office is representing the medical examiner’s officer in the matter. Fowler is set to testify for the defense in the Minneapolis murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin on Wednesday, who is charged with killing George Floyd.

Black’s family claims excessive force and racial bias led to their son’s death by “positional asphyxiation,” and allege a cover-up involving the state medical examiner and police personnel from the Eastern Shore towns of Greensboro, Ridgley and Centreville.

For example, the family’s lawsuit claims the medical examiner failed to release its toxicology report showing Black did not have drugs in his system because it would have contradicted the police narrative that he did.

The motion to dismiss said the toxicology report was protected from release under Maryland law, and the office later released that Black was not on drugs at the time.

The family’s lawsuit also cited a Maryland State Police report mentioning a conversation between an officer and the autopsy’s author, who said Black’s neck “looked good,” which the family claimed showed authorities were trying to “rule out evidence of physical violence and asphyxiation by police.”

But the motion to dismiss said the report didn’t hide the stress of the struggle between officers and Black — noting the 43 blunt force trauma wounds Black suffered in the struggle with police. The medical examiner’s office concluded his cause of death was from an underlying heart condition, with bipolar disorder being a contributing factor.

The motion also states that the family said in its original complaint that it is “extremely unlikely” but not impossible that Black died from his heart condition.

WTOP’s Glynis Kazanjian contributed to this report.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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