The family of a young Black father found dead a month after telling his mother he was being pursued and feared for his life is demanding justice and a federal investigation.
Rasheem Carter, 25, was reported missing on Oct. 2 after his mother said he’d called the police for assistance before contacting her, panicked that white men in three trucks were chasing him and hurling racial slurs, according to NBC News.
Authorities found his remains a month later, on Nov. 2, in a wooded area near Taylorsville, Mississippi. The Smith County Sheriff’s Department released a Facebook statement the following day, saying that Carter’s death was under investigation, but they had “no reason” to suspect foul play.
His family, however, isn’t convinced.
During a press conference on Monday, Carter’s family members and their attorney, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, blasted the local government for stalling their investigation for over four months. They said they think he was the victim of a vicious hate crime.
“There is nothing natural about this,” Crump said, NBC reported. “It screams out for justice. What we have is a Mississippi lynching.”
Crump, who wants the Justice Department to take over the case and launch a civil rights investigation, released images of Carter’s skeletal remains on Monday. The attorney told reporters he believed somebody detached Carter’s head and spinal cord, which authorities allegedly discovered away from his body. Carter is also alleged to have been missing his front teeth from his top and bottom rows.
Chief Tommy Cox of the Laurel Police Department dispensed Carter’s missing person report and said they took up the case quickly after his family requested help. However, Cox said Carter didn’t contact his office before going missing. The Laurel police turned over its investigation to the Smith County Sheriff’s Department once it became apparent the case fell outside its jurisdiction.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, which supports the sheriff’s inquiry but is not actively investigating, said Carter’s autopsy was completed on Feb. 2, yet declined to provide additional details.
While Carter’s family believes the condition of his remains could be a sign of a physical attack, authorities allegedly claimed that wild animals might have ripped apart his body.
Yokena Anderson, a cousin of Carter’s mother, Tiffany Carter, implied that she wasn’t convinced by the authorities’ theory that “he went there and fell dead and the animals were feeding off him,” noting that he was in “so many different pieces.”
Carter’s mother contended that during their final phone calls, her son was clear about the threats he faced, was not on drugs or intoxicated, and had no mental illness in his history.
According to Tiffany Carter, her son was building savings to relaunch the seafood eatery he owned, which he named after his daughter. The business closed its doors due to the pandemic.
“They thought this was going to be a child no one cared anything about,” the grieving mother said, vowing not to stop searching for answers. “They’re clearly mistaken. Because he was somebody.”
Carter was reportedly working a temporary contract welding job in Taylorsville, located about 100 miles west of Fayette, where he lived. His mother said he had a disagreement with at least one of his coworkers in October and ran out of fear for his life.
“This was a nefarious act. This was an evil act,” Crump said, NBC reported. “Somebody murdered Rasheem Carter, and we cannot let them get away with this.”
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