DOJ Ends Inquiry Into Black Man’s Hanging

     (CN) – The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday said it is closing its investigation of the death of a black man found hanging from a tree in Mississippi in March.
     Federal investigators say they simply have found no evidence proving the death of 54-year-old Otis James Byrd was a homicide.
     Byrd, was found hanging by a bed sheet in a tree outside the small town of Port Gibson, Mississippi on the morning of March 19. He’d been missing since March 2, according to family members who had filed a missing persons report six days later.
     Claiborne County Sheriff Marvin Lucas said shortly after the body was found that Byrd had been renting a home just 500 yards from where he was found, and that there were no obvious signs that allow one to conclude he’d been murdered.
     Byrd was no stranger to trouble, authorities said. He’s been convicted of capital murder for killing a woman during a 1980 robbery, and was released on parole in November 2006.
     Because of the mystery surrounding his death, the Justice Department opened an investigation to determine whether any civil rights violations had occurred. On Friday, the government said it didn’t think this was the case.
     “After a careful and thorough review , a team of experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents determined that there was no evidence to prove that Byrd’s death was a homicide,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
     Investigators said an autopsy and analysis of the scene near where the body was found revealed no signs of a struggle and that the only injury to Byrd’s body appeared to be asphyxiation from the bed sheet.
     Sheriff Marvin Lucas told reporters Friday, “We think that Mr. Byrd did this to himself.”
     An attorney for Byrd’s family said several of the dead man’s relatives remain unconvinced that their loved one wasn’t the victim of foul play, and plan to continue their own investigation.

%d bloggers like this: