Attorney Ben Crump calls for 'comprehensive investigation' after Florida police rule Nevan Baker's hanging death as suicide
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is calling for an investigation after Florida police ruled the death of a black man who was hanging as a suicide on a tree.
The man's family also want more information, the Orlando Sentinel reported, despite law enforcement officials saying they have "exhausted all leads" and found no evidence of bad game.
Nevan Baker, 22, was found just after 3:30 a.m. on October 5 after police were called into a park by a person who, according to an Orlando Police Department case report, saw a man hanging from a tree.
According to the report, three officers tried to help Baker at the scene. One officer grabbed Baker "by the lower half" while the other two cut a white rope to bring Baker to the ground. Officers couldn't find a pulse while he was on the ground, police said in the report.
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While police and medical examiner's office ruled Baker's death a suicide, Crump tweeted on Sunday that Baker's "hands were tied, teeth were missing and face was injured."
Using the hashtag #JusticeForNevan, Crump added: "We want transparency and a thorough investigation so that we know exactly what happened!"
Sharhonda James, Baker's mother, told the Sentinel that she noticed injuries to Baker's nose, forehead and jaw when she saw him at the morgue. She told the newspaper that she had no reason to believe that her son had killed himself.
"We're not going to let go of this. The church isn't going to let go of this," James told the newspaper.
The Orlando Police Department released a statement Friday calling Baker's death a suicide.
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“We saw social media posts about a man who was found dead in Barker Park. This is a tragic suicide case and it is difficult for investigators to publicly discuss details due to the privacy of the victim and his family, "OPD said.
According to Sentinel, Baker's sister has set up a GoFundMe account for his funeral arrangements.
The County Medical Examiner's office also ruled the mode of death as suicide in a case summary made available to the U.S. by police TODAY.
The doctor's office did not immediately respond to a request for the full autopsy report.
"The officers have exhausted all leads and at this point there is no evidence of bad game or any type of physical fight," the police department said in a statement.
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"The coroner has also investigated and ruled the cause of death as suicide. Our detectives continue to support the victim's family where they can. We keep the victim, his family and friends on our minds during this difficult time."
The case is similar to that of another black man hanging from a tree. Robert Fuller's death in Palmdale, California sparked public outcry over a police investigation after the 24-year-old's death was initially classified as a suicide. The authorities ruled the death again as suicide after an investigation.
A second Californian man, 38-year-old Malcolm Harsch, was also found hanged that summer. Racial justice protests have resulted in hate crimes and violence against black Americans. His death in Victorville was also classified as a suicide.
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Nevan Baker: The Hanging Death of a Black Man Calls for Investigation
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