GREENSBORO, Md. April 14, 2021– One of the witnesses for Derek Chauvin defending him in his murder trial in the killing of George Floyd, Dr. David Fowler, is currently being sued by the family of Anton Black, a 19 year old Black teenager killed by police in Maryland. As Maryland medical examiner, Fowler claimed that Anton died of natural causes, saying that his bipolar disorder was a contributing factor, rather than the weight pressed on Anton while he was held facedown by three white officers and a white civilian.
Sonia Kumar, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Maryland:
“Under Dr. Fowler’s leadership, the Maryland Office of the Medical Examiner has been complicit in creating false narratives about what kills Black people in police encounters, including Tyrone West, Tawon Boyd, Anton Black, and too many others. The medical examiner’s office ruled that Anton Black’s death was not a homicide even though video showed police chase him, tase him, and pin him face down to the ground after he was handcuffed and at which point he stopped breathing. The medical examiner blamed Anton for his own death — peppering its report with false claims about laced drugs, a heart condition, and even Anton’s bipolar disorder — instead of the police who killed him. The family was forced to pay for outside experts help to understand what really killed Anton.
“Video shows that police killed George Floyd. Dr. Fowler is again ignoring plain evidence in the killing of a Black man who would be alive but for the actions of other people because those people were police. Medical examiners hugely impact our ability to end police violence. When medical examiners and others downplay the role of police actions in causing a death, they are both protecting police and hiding information that could prevent avoidable deaths. That is exactly what happened in the police killing of Anton Black, and other Black people in Maryland. We hope that ends now.”
Anton Black’s family is represented by Kenneth W. Ravenell, René C. Swafford, Leslie Hershfield, and Tomeka Church. The Coalition for Justice for Anton Black is represented by the ACLU of Maryland: Senior Staff Attorney Sonia Kumar, Legal Director Deborah Jeon, Staff Attorneys Ieshaah Murphy and Tierney Peprah, with the support of Intake & Investigations Manager Gina Elleby and Legal Program Associate Jay Jimenez; John A. Freedman, Ryan D. Budhu, Joseph P. Klemme, Jayce Born, John F. Mezzanote, Jr., and Florence Bryan of Arnold & Porter.
View the legal complaint and learn more, here.