(Updated 7/19/2013) A man died in police custody following a struggle with officers in northeast Baltimore on the evening of July 18, officials said.
At the scene, Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said northeast district police stopped a vehicle in the 1300 block of Kitmore Rd. for a traffic violation. While investigating the vehicle for drugs, a struggle began between officers and a man in the car, later identified as Tyrone West, 44.
He said officers requested backup and took West into custody, at which time West went into “medical distress.” West was taken to a local area hospital around 9:13 p.m., where he died.
Shawanda Lewis, who lives in the neighborhood, said two officers told West to get out of the car and pinned him against the vehicle. She said the other passenger, West’s girlfriend, stood on the side of road.
Lewis said officers put West on the ground, where they sprayed him with mace and began hitting him. She said West ran to a nearby alley, where officers started hitting him with batons and kicking him in his head and back.
As West ran back across the street, Lewis said, Morgan State University police and more Baltimore police officers arrived in the scene. She said about 10 officers began hitting and kicking the man.
A few moments later, she said the officers were administering CPR to West, who she said was bleeding from his mouth.
Lewis said she has lived in the New Northwood neighborhood since she was kid. “We never have no issues in the block,” said Lewis.
Another witness, Ayesha Rucker, 30, who was visiting Lewis, said she called out to the officers to stop beating the man and allow him to get himself together.
“We were so shocked,” said Rucker. “Ya’ll just beating this man, even if he was dirty, he did not resist arrest.”
According to court records, West has been charged in drug- and violent-crime related incidents dating back to the late 1990s.
Rodriguez said he could not immediately confirm the specifics of the incident. He urged any witnesses or residents in the neighborhood with photos or videos of the incident to turn them in to the police department.
Police officers from the homicide division and the professional standards committee of the internal affairs department were also on the scene.
“Professional standards will be overseeing the initial investigation in cooperation with the criminal investigation,” said Rodriguez. “Professional standards is here to make sure we look at every aspect of this incident.”
Rodriguez said the department will investigate the officers’ use of force and their actions. He said information from the investigation will be presented to the state’s attorney’s office to help build an administrative case.
“Like you, like the community, we’ve got more questions than answers right now,” said Rodriguez. “But one thing you need to know and that the community needs to know is that we will get the answers. Unfortunately, not every traffic stop, not every traffic violation is the same.”
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