The Washington Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Wednesday asked the FBI to step into the investigation into the hanging death of a Washington teen after authorities initially ruled his death a suicide.
Ben Keita was found hanging from a tree in January after having been missing for two months, and initially, his death was ruled a suicide.
“Ben was very happy young man,” his father, Ibrahimi Keita, told KOMO News. “He was already in the running start program going to Everett Community College. No history of depression or anxiety.”
However, the medical examiner later changed the cause of death to be undetermined because the rope used to hang Keita was tied 50 feet up in the tree and because an earlier search of the area had failed to find Keita’s body.
“We are careful not to rush to judgment,” the Rev. Kele Brown of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Seattle told KIRO. “Historically lynchings were often deemed quickly as suicide without the benefit of thorough inquiry.”
When reports surfaced that authorities were going to close the case on Keita, the CAIR called for federal involvement.
“We just want to make sure that the expertise, the experience and the human resources of the FBI are brought to make sure everything is comprehensively investigated, no stone is left unturned,” said Washington CAIR executive director Arsalan Bukhari.
“We are aware of circumstances of the individual’s death and will review them with consideration of federal law,” the FBI said in a statement released in response to the request. “If warranted, we may conduct further investigation. A review does not necessarily result in the opening of an investigation.”