In-Custody Fatality Independent Review Board Report on the Death of Tyrone West
The sudden death of Mr. Tyrone West on July 18, 2013 during an arrest by Baltimore Police Department officers was unexpected and produced some controversy among his family, community activists and the media. Soon after the death, the Police Commissioner convened an independent board of respected professionals from law enforcement, academia, and medical and legal professions to review the circumstances surrounding the incident and make, where appropriate, recommendations for improvement to prevent a similar recurrence. The Independent Review Board (hereafter referred to as
reviewed all reports, evidence, statements, and Baltimore Police Department (BPD) policies and training, in addition to requesting further information from BPD. The IRB conferred several times during the past four months and reached unanimous agreement on the incident findings and recommendations for improvement, all of which are presented in this report. The IRB concludes that Mr. West died suddenly while engaged in an extended period of resisting a lawful arrest by BPD. The postmortem examination report concluded that Mr. West
of Cardiac Arrhythmia due to Cardiac Conduction System Abnormality
complicated by Dehydration during Police Restraint.‖
According to the Medical Examiner, another factor that may have
―contributed to his death was the extreme
environmental temperatures, which were reported in the high 90s, with a heat index in the low 100s (degrees Fahrenheit)
The Autopsy revealed ―neither signs of asphyxia,
nor significant injury to vital structures
or vital areas of the body.‖
Whenever physical force is employed in police-citizen encounters, there is always a risk of serious injury and, potentially, death. The law authorizes police officers to use only that force necessary to overcome resistance, to defend themselves, and to affect a lawful arrest. The IRB finds that the officers did not employ force beyond that which was necessary and reasonable to subdue an exceptionally strong and well-muscled suspect who was resisting a lawful arrest. The officers involved used less than lethal weapons and defensive tactics to attempt to control, restrain, and arrest Mr. West. The IRB noted, with concern, that the officers involved departed from some BPD policies and training and made several tactical errors that may have extended the length of the physical encounter, compromised officer safety, and potentially aggravated the situation.
After extensive review, the IRB reports 18 findings, which are broken into seven issue areas: 1.
Officer Judgment/Decision-Making 2.
Transfer Criteria for Specialized High-Discretion Units (i.e., Northeast Operations Unit) 3.
Use of Force Policies 4.
Officer Tactical Procedures and Techniques