Family of man who died in police custody does not trust police investigation

Tyrone West died after a traffic stop last week

Family members of a man who died while in police custody last week say they don't trust Baltimore City police to perform an investigation into the incident.

Tyrone West died after a traffic stop in Northeast Baltimore on Thursday night.

On Tuesday, dozens of people gathered at the scene to demand some kind of punishment for the police officers involved in the attempt to arrest him.

"I can't explain how hurt I am. I can't explain how hurt my family is," said West's sister, Towanda Jones.  "I will not rest until justice is done."

Family members described a man who had reformed his life, attended church regularly, and who didn't deserve to die after a traffic stop.

Video taken just after the incident shows officers trying to rescue Tyrone West -- but neighbors who saw the incident say at the eight Baltimore City officers and one officer from Morgan State University beat and kicked him while he was already on the ground.

"No more will you devils beat us. No more will you dogs, you racist dogs beat us.  We're not going to take it no more," said the Rev. Annie Chambers, a community activist.

Tyrone West's family has hired attorney A. Dwight Pettit, who has worked on dozens of cases involving allegations of police brutality.

He criticized the police department's practice of having its own homicide unit investigate deaths involving officers.  That investigation is still going on; Pettit says he has an idea of how it will turn out.

"They circle the wagons around the police department. And before the investigation is even completed, before you have an autopsy, before witnesses are interviewed, the police department and the state's attorney begin to render decisions of their non-involvement or their non-responsibility," he said.

The family is calling for a federal investigation into the incident.

The head of the city's police union, Det. Bob Cherry, released a statement, saying:  "We need to await the toxicology results from the medical examiner that may indeed show the suspect had ingested illegal drugs that may explain why the suspect continued to fight / resist our officers and who refused to be taken into custody.  Our officers used enough force as necessary and as trained to do so to take the suspect in custody."

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