ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Members of a justice coalition for a Maryland police case with striking similarities to George Floyd’s say former police officer Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict represents an overdue stand for justice that they’re still fighting to receive.
Anton Black of the Eastern Shore died in 2018 after officers put their full weight on him for six minutes after being handcuffed, which was caught on video.
Black’s family is suing officers and one of the witnesses for Derek Chauvin, former Maryland medical examiner David Fowler, who claimed police use of force did not contribute to Black’s death.
Sonia Kumar, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Maryland who represents the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black, said Marylanders applauding the Chauvin verdict need to ask why there’s been no accountability for Black’s death.
“I think it’s easier to call for change anywhere but our own backyards, right?” Kumar pointed out. “So I think it’s really important that folks remember that we have our own case like this right here in Maryland. And there are many other people who have lost their lives in police encounters who deserve every bit as much attention and concern as we’ve seen in the case of George Floyd.”
She said the Black family’s lawsuit calls for officials to acknowledge Anton’s death was a homicide, to prevent police use of force cases such as this from happening again.
Maryland lawmakers have made progress with police reforms and are being praised for becoming the first state in the nation to repeal its law enforcement bill of rights.
But Kumar cautioned it’s only the beginning of a long-needed reckoning for policing in Maryland and across the nation.
“There’s so much more that needs to happen,” Kumar contended. “Not just what police do; it’s with all these institutions that surround police and that are complicit in police violence. And so I think we can expect that the calls for radical change will continue.”
An ACLU of Maryland report shows in the past 20 years, Maryland police have killed more than 500 people.
Black residents make up 63% of those killings, even though they make up only 31% of the state’s population, the second-highest percentage in the country.