Sunday, December 19, 2010

Suicide Or Lynching? The Coroner Thinks The Former & NAACP The Latter In Greenwood,MS Man's Death

Frederick Jermaine Carter

NAACP Contests Suicide As Cause Of Hanged Man's Death

By Larry Copeland, USA TODAY


The county sheriff says that a 26-year-old black man found hanged from an oak tree in Greenwood, Miss., apparently committed suicide, but the president of the local NAACP challenges that explanation and says the group will monitor developments in the case.

Frederick Jermaine Carter, whose body was found Friday in North Greenwood, had a history of mental illness, was on medication and had a pattern of wandering away, says Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks.

Carter, who lived in neighboring Sunflower County, was helping his stepfather paint a building Wednesday. The stepfather went to get tools and when he returned, Carter had wandered off, Banks says.

"That really didn't bother the stepdaddy," Banks says. "It had happened so many times before. He's a mental patient and was taking medication. He had wandered to Florida, to Arkansas."

After Carter was found Friday, Banks says he investigated the scene and found no evidence that anyone else was there. "I didn't see any indication of anybody else being in that area, going from physical evidence and the general tracks," Banks says. "He had on a sort of new pair of tennis shoes that had a most distinct track with an unusual design."

"We tracked him where he walked in there," he says. "No other tracks followed his tracks. He walked in there by himself. There were no signs around the tree where he was hanging."

Banks says a man who lives nearby saw Carter walking toward the site, in a field between a levee and the Yazoo River. "He talked to him, asked him what he was doing down there. He said, 'Well, I'm just walking.' He wouldn't talk to him."

Banks says his finding on a cause of death is not final. He is awaiting autopsy and toxicology reports. "They'll look for bruising on the body, to see if it looks like somebody might have scuffled with him or whatever," he says. "I didn't find any evidence of that."

The FBI's Jackson field office is monitoring the situation. "The FBI has been advised of the situation in Leflore County," spokeswoman Deborah Madden says in a statement. "We stand by to provide whatever assistance is necessary to ensure the integrity of the investigation."

State Rep. Willie Perkins, a Democrat from Greenwood and president of the Leflore County branch of the NAACP, says that group also "will keep a high scrutiny and watch on any investigative report regarding what was the cause of death."

"There are a lot of concerns there, No. 1 that this individual could not have (hanged) himself without the assistance of someone, if it's being declared a suicide," he says. "Why would someone from Sunflower County come to North Greenwood, the predominantly white housing area of Greenwood? Why would someone that far away come and hang themselves in North Greenwood by a river? That does not pass the smell test to me."

Another local elected official, state Sen. David Jordan, a Democrat, says the African-American community in Greenwood is "very much concerned."

"This is in a white wealthy area, and black people just don't go over there," he says. "There's not a single black that's talked to us who believes that he hanged himself."

Jordan, who is African-American, suggests there is a historical underpinning for blacks being suspicious about the specter of violence against them: Greenwood is about 12 miles from Money, Miss., site of one of the most infamous lynchings in U.S. history. In August 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Chicago boy visiting relatives for the summer, was abducted and killed after he allegedly made remarks to a white woman.

"We're not drawing any conclusions," Jordan says. "We're skeptical, and rightfully we should be, given our history. We can't take this lightly. We just have to wait and see."


Coroner: Miss. Black Man's Hanging Was A Suicide

By Larry Copeland, USA TODAY

An autopsy shows that a Mississippi man found hanging from a tree in Greenwood killed himself, according to the Leflore County coroner.

"The cause of death was hanging. The manner of death was suicide," coroner Debra Sanders said. She said the state crime lab faxed the autopsy results to her Monday night.

NAACP: Not satisfied with suicide explanation

Frederick Jermaine Carter, 26, of nearby Sunflower, who Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks said had a history of mental illness, was fully clothed, his hands were free, and he had a cigarette lighter in his pocket, Sanders said.

Banks said he found no evidence of foul play and no signs that anyone else was at the scene near the Yazoo River in north Greenwood.

Carter and his stepfather were painting in Greenwood on Dec. 1 when Carter wandered off, which he did frequently, Banks said. He was found hanging from an oak tree two days later.

Banks said a toxicology report is not expected for at least several days.

Many African Americans in Greenwood challenged the initial official explanation of the man's death.

The local NAACP said it is still closely following the case. "I don't know enough at this point in time to accept or reject the decision," said state Rep. Willie Perkins, a Democrat and president of the Leflore County branch of the NAACP. "We'll continue to monitor and watch the situation."

Greenwood, in the Mississippi Delta, is in the same county as Money, Miss., where 14-year-old Emmett Till was infamously lynched in 1955.

More Civil Rights Movement On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. :

No comments: