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Originally published August 02, 2013

Was Tyrone West Death Police Brutality?

“…officers believe there is no price to pay for beating a Black man.” Atty. A. Dwight Petit

by Krishana Davis
AFRO Staff Writers

    Tyrone West http://www.facebook.com/FoTStheatre (Courtesy Photo/Facebook)
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The exact causes behind the death of a man who struggled with Baltimore police following a traffic stop remains unclear, with authorities declining to release information in the case.

Tyrone West, 44, died following a struggle with Baltimore police officers on July 18.

“The autopsy hasn’t been released yet,” said Baltimore police spokesperson Detective Vernon Davis. “The case is still under investigation.”

West died following an altercation with police after being pulled over for a traffic violation in the 1300 block of Kitmore Rd.

At the scene, Dep. Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said West refused to let Northeast District officers search the car for drugs, and began to struggle with two patrol officers. Rodriguez said the patrol officers called for backup and took West into custody when he went into “medical distress.” He said officers attempted to revive West on the scene; he was later taken to a nearby hospital, where he died.

Eight Baltimore police officers—Nicholas David Chapman, Matthew Rea Cioffi, Alex Ryan Hashgen, Eric Maurice Hinton, Danielle Angela Lewis, Derrick Dewayne Beasley and Latreese Nicole Lee—and one Morgan State University officer were involved in the incident. The Baltimore police officers were not immediately suspended following West’s death.

However, Davis said the Baltimore City police officers involved are all currently suspended and on paid administrative leave due to the pending investigation.

The name of the Morgan State University police officers involved has not been released. A university spokesperson said the investigation is ongoing.

Some witnesses and family members are calling the incident a case of police brutality and excessive force.

One witness, Ayesha Rucker, 30, was visiting a friend who lives in the block at the time of the incident, and said officers pulled West out of the car by his dreadlocks. She said the officers sprayed West with mace and kicked him in the head and body.

“He never even resisted arrest,” said Rucker. “The police pumped his chest for at least 10 minutes before the ambulance arrived.”

Another witness, Chuma Obinene, 22, who lives nearby, said once police backup arrived, West “disappeared into a sea of blue,” as officers beat him with batons and kicked him.

Famed Baltimore attorney A. Dwight Petit has taken on the case and is representing West’s family. At the vigil for West, Petit said “officers believe there is no price to pay for beating a Black man.”

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