Family demands answers after death of Black man found hanging at Orlando park ruled suicide
The family of a Black man who was found hanging from a tree in Orlando, Florida. Nevan Baker, 22, was found on Oct. 5 in a tree at Barker Park around 3 AM according to the Orlando Police Department. Police officers at the scene grabbed Baker “by the lower half” while two other officers cut the white rope to get him on the ground. Officers weren’t able to find a pulse once they got Baker on the ground according to WESH 2.
Orlando police claim there aren’t any signs of foul play and ruled the death of suicide by the medical examiner. However, Baker’s family doesn’t believe the report of suicide and wants police officials to conduct a deeper investigation into his death.
“You cannot take lightly when a Black person is found hanging from a tree. You cannot rule it a suicide immediately before you do a thorough investigation,” Francine James, Baker’s grandmother told the news station.
Baker’s family and local community activists have been calling for the police department to reopen the case. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump tweeted about the case saying that Baker’s “hands were tied, teeth missing and face bruised.”
Orlando Chief Orlando Rolón met with Baker’s family on Monday to provide more details on the investigation. A statement from the police department earlier this week said:
“While we are awaiting the final report from the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office, an agency independent of the Orlando Police Department, their initial findings ruled the death a suicide.”