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Lawyer Blasts Report On In-Custody Death of Anthony Anderson
Updated: Tuesday, December 17 2013, 12:35 PM EST
The lawyer representing the family of an East Baltimore man who died in police custody blasted a report issued by a special panel which concluded the officers acted within the law.
"They were overly solicitous to the police officers, that in my opinion places the credibility of their report in question," J. Wyndal Gordon told FOX45.
The report released last week examined the death of Anthony Anderson, who died in police custody after he was arrested for drug possession in September 2012.
The panel, made up of law enforcement experts, interviewed officers and several key witnesses at the request of Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.
Three officers from the now defunct VISD unit (Violent Impact Crimes Division) told the panel they witnessed Anderson make a drug buy in East Baltimore, prompting one of the detectives to approach Anderson form behind. The officer then told the panel he executed an "Apex Move" by putting Anderson in a bear hug and then throwing him to the ground.
Another officer told the committee he then nudged Anderson with his foot.
But witness accounts conflicted with the officer's statements. Several members of Anderson's family told the committee officers kicked Anderson after he was handcuffed, a version of events the panel dismissed but Gordon says contributed to Anderson's death.
"He died from being kicked to death," Gordon said. "Not one aspect of that report has addressed the post arrest; he was handcuffed and violently tortured."
A state medical examiner ruled Anderson's death a homicide due to blunt force trauma.
According to the autopsy, Anderson suffered several broken ribs, a punctured spleen, and damage to his liver which hemorrhaged after his arrest. The medical examiner told the panel that it was possible the injuries were sustained during the takedown.
However, the panel concluded the takedown maneuver called the "Apex move" complied with departmental procedures even though the officer's account of how he employed the tactic differed from how it is taught.
According to sources familiar with departmental training, the "Apex move" uses the suspects opposing force to take him or her to the ground by pulling his or her hand forward while swiping the suspect's legs from behind.
But the officer told the panel he grabbed Anderson from behind in a bear hug, before taking him to the ground, a variation the panel attributed to improvisation by the officer based upon his knowledge of wrestling.
"Detective (1) has a wrestling background, so this take down is something he did before or is very familiar with," the report says.
But Gordon says the discrepancy points to panel's lack of objectivity in evaluating the entire arrest.
"In order for committee to evaluate the circumstances surrounding his death they have to review factual information," he said. "The apex maneuver as it was taught was not performed in the same or like or manner."
Despite the controversy over its use, police confirmed the "Apex move" is still part of the department's training curriculum.
"Apex take-down is still taught." Lt. John Kowalczyk told FOX45 in an email.
CLICK HERE to listen to the 911 calls from the scene of the fatal arrest.