The family of a Black man whose body was found south of Taylorsville, Mississippi, is demanding a federal investigation into his case after local officials claimed they had “no reason to believe foul play was involved” in his death. Shortly before his passing, Rasheem Carter from Fayette had told his mother that White men were pursuing and hurling racial slurs at him, per NBC News.
The mother of the deceased 25-year-old said her son reached out to the police for help and also informed her on the phone that he was being chased by White men in trucks. Carter’s family was not able to establish any contact with him shortly after and reported him missing on October 2.
However, after his body was found on November 2, the Smith County Sheriff’s Department released a statement on Facebook saying it did not have any “reason to believe” the Black man’s death was a result of foul play. Meanwhile, the case was still being investigated at the time the statement was released.
During a news conference on Monday, Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Carter’s family, informed reporters that he believes the 25-year-old’s body was severed, adding that it was “not a natural death.” But some relatives said authorities informed them Carter’s body may have been severed by wild animals.
“He was in so many different pieces,” Yokena Anderson, the cousin of Carter’s mother, said. “They wanted to tell us that he went there and fell dead and the animals were feeding off him.”
Carter’s mother, Tiffany Carter, however, said her son did not mince his words when he told her about his supposedly volatile situation in the phone calls they had prior to his disappearance. She also claimed he had not taken any drugs or alcohol, adding that he did not have any history of mental illness, NBC News reported.
She said she had her own reservations about her son’s supposed cause of death before she even saw the place his body was located. “When I went on the scene, the Holy Spirit hit me and said this is foul play,” Tiffany Carter said. “I knew then somebody had done something to him.”
Carter, who was a welder, had been working in Taylorsville after he was offered a temporary contract. But his mother said he and at least one co-worker got into a misunderstanding in October, causing him to flee the work site because he feared he was in danger.
“He said, ‘I got these men trying to kill me,'” she said. Tiffany Carter explained that she then told her son to seek help from the nearest police station, and later did not hear from him again.
During Monday’s news conference, Carter’s family and Crump condemned local authorities for keeping them in the dark for over four months, and their initial claim about the circumstances surrounding his death, per NBC News. They said they believe the Black man’s death was a result of a hate crime.
“This was a nefarious act. This was an evil act,” Crump said. “Somebody murdered Rasheem Carter, and we cannot let them get away with this.”
Crump also called on the Justice Department to take over the case and initiate a civil rights probe. “This was not a natural death,” said Crump. “This represents a young man who was killed.”
Crump also said Carter’s spinal cord was not attached to his head when the body was found, adding that it was located at a different place. “There is nothing natural about this. It screams out for justice,” he said. “What we have is a Mississippi lynching.”
Some of the deceased Black man’s teeth were also missing when his body was found. His family said that could mean he was assaulted before he passed away.