A 21-year-old Middle River man’s September death following a scuffle with Baltimore County police was an accident rather than a homicide, according to the state medical examiner’s office.
Police responded to Tawon Boyd’s home on Akin Circle on Sunday, Sept. 18, and found him and his fiancée screaming at one another. Authorities said that when they tried to engage him, he was “confused and paranoid.” After running up to police cars, doors and fighting with as many as five officers trying to subdue him, he wound up in the hospital. He died three days later, leaving behind his three-year old daughter and fiancée.
A spokesman for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said the department was not open today. However, the Baltimore Sun obtained a copy of his autopsy report, in which examiners wrote that Boyd’s death was caused by multiple organ failure, rather than trauma.
“It is unlikely that restraint by law enforcement caused or significantly contributed to his death based on the reported circumstances and timeline of the restraint,” the examiners wrote, per the Sun. “Since his death most likely followed from complications of intoxication with a drug (N-Ethylpentylone), the manner of death is best certified as accident.”
That drug found in Boyd’s system falls into a class known as “bath salts,” the same mind-altering substances tied to the “zombie” incidents of years past in Florida in which users allegedly bit victims and struggled violently with police.
Boyd’s fiancée told the 911 dispatcher that night that he was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana and was acting “crazy” before they showed up, police said. A police account of the ordeal says Boyd tried to climb into their cruisers, called out for help, kicked at officers and scuffled with them when they tried to restrain him after he began knocking on his neighbor’s door. Officers also reported using force, including punching Boyd in the face twice and additional officers sitting on him to restrain him before medics arrived.
According to the police report, medics administered a drug later identified by the medical examiners as Haldol, an anti-psychotic, to Boyd at the scene. “While monitoring Suspect Boyd, he became so calm that Officer Bowman, asked a medic to check the suspect for a pulse,” police wrote in their report.
While Boyd had a pulse when he was transported to Franklin Square Hospital, the examiners found Boyd had gone into cardiac arrest before he died. Examiners wrote that Boyd’s “presentation in an excited delirium-like state with subsequent cardiac arrest likely developed as a consequence of intoxication” from the bath salts-like substance, per the Sun.
An attorney for Boyd’s family suggested there could be other factors in his death. A. Dwight Pettit told the newspaper he plans to call in an independent expert to review the autopsy report and Boyd’s medical records. “We think that there’s obviously something wrong here, beyond question, that somebody that calls to reach out for help ends up dead,” Pettit said.
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