The Baltimore Police Department is providing more power to the argument that law enforcement should not be responsible for dealing with situations involving drugs and mental health.
Last Wednesday, a 21-year-old man by the name of Tawon Boyd felt the need to call 911 after suffering from an explained mental breakdown. A report from the Guardian suggests that Boyd’s girlfriend could be heard in the background screaming, “Tell them to hurry up.”
When police arrived on the scene, the situation took a turn for the weird after Boyd explained to the officers that his girlfriend had drugged him and then pleaded with them to go into his home to uncover an audio surveillance device that he was convinced had been planted.
After the cops assessed Boyd’s condition, they labeled him a “suspect” (in what crime?) and determined he “was under the influence of a narcotic and/or suffering [REDACTED] and needed to be taken to the hospital for emergency evaluation.”
It was around this point that Boyd allegedly explained to the officers that he had consumed some alcohol and had been smoking marijuana.
But Boyd was obviously going through something rather terrifying, which made it difficult for the police to round him up before the paramedics arrived. The police report does not give any indication that Boyd was threatening the officers or taking any actions that could pose a risk to their safety—only that Boyd appeared to have scratched the neck and accidentally kicked one of the cops while they were attempting to calm him down.
That is when one of the officers, who has been identified as Officer Bowman, “delivered two closed fist strikes to the suspect’s face with his right fist” and then laid on top of Boyd in order to keep him from moving around. Witnesses say that Bowman “really started wailing on Mr. Boyd, meaning Mr. Boyd was on the ground in a prone position and Bowman sat on him, almost straddled his back, and put his left arm under Boyd’s neck and pulled his head up in a choking fashion.”
It was during this time, according to witnesses, that Boyd was screaming, “Stop, stop, I can’t breathe,” before going silent and foaming at the mouth.
When Boyd’s grandmother asked the officers to get off of him because “they could kill him like that,” one of the cops told her she would be locked up if she did not go back across the street.
By the time the ambulance arrived to transport Boyd to the emergency room for an evaluation, he had been beaten severely. He was then taken to a nearby hospital where he laid in intensive care for three days before dying as a result of his injuries.
So far, no charges have been filed against the officers. An autopsy is expected to find that Boyd died as a result of “swelling on the brain,” according to the family’s attorney Latoya Francis-Williams.
This unfortunate story should serve as a reminder that we put too much responsibility on our law enforcement officers—forcing them to deal with drug and metal health-related issues when they have no training to assist in those types of situations.
Meanwhile, the latest FBI crime data shows that violent crime has increased all across the nation.
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