In the wee hours of the morning on October 5th, 2020, a shocking call was made to authorities in Orlando, Florida about a Black man hanging from a tree. The 22-year-old’s name was Nevan Baker, and his lifeless body was discovered by passers-by at about 3:30 a.m. Police later ruled the death as a suicide. But, amongst all of the racial tension going on in America right now and with noticeable bodily bruises and injuries to Nevan that seemed to happen shortly before his death, the family is currently demanding answers.
His mother Sharhonda James, does not believe that her son killed himself. After seeing the evidence that was provided by the Orlando Police Department, she seriously doubts that’s what happened. “We don’t have answers to everything,” the distraught mother said. “They tried to explain some things, but they still weren’t adding up.”
Nevan’s grandmother, Francine James, also voiced how she felt about her grandson’s death. “You cannot take lightly when a Black person is found hanging from a tree,” she told WESH News Channel 2. “You cannot rule it a suicide immediately before you do a thorough investigation… I know someone did something to my grandson! He did not kill himself!”
The Investigation into Nevan Baker’s Death
Right now, where the investigation stands is where the medical examiner left off, ruling that the 22-year-old’s death was one that he inflicted on himself. But, Baker’s family and the immediate community in Orlando are pushing for a deeper look into it, and waiting on additional evidence, such as the outside video camera footage at the park where he was found hanging from the tree (Barker Park) to be released. This way they can see what really happened that night.
Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump agrees with the family and the immediate community. “Nevin Baker was found HANGING from a tree in Orlando,” the African-American lawyer tweeted. “Orlando Police quickly ruled his death a suicide, but now we learn his hands were tied, teeth missing and face bruised. We demand transparency and the comprehensive investigation so we know exactly what happened!”
The department was initially saying that there were no signs of foul play, and that Nevan did in fact kill himself according to the evidence. But, those types of bodily injuries are consistent with some sort of struggle. And, the added attention to this horrible death is going to put pressure on the department to release as much evidence as possible in the coming weeks to reveal the truth.
The Orlando Police Respond on Social Media to Nevin Baker’s Death
The City of Orlando Police Department released a statement on Twitter that denied there was a struggle, and that nothing was done to Nevan to harm him immediately before he died.
“Today, Chief Orlando Rolon met with Nevan Baker’s mother and other family members, and their lawyer,” the October 12th statement read, “to provide additional details on the investigation conducted by our detectives. Some of the investigative details provided to family members include body one camera video that showed Nevin’s hands were not tied behind his back, and crime scene photos that illustrated Nevin had no bruising on his body.”
They went on to say that they were still waiting on the final report from the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office. But, until the outside camera footage is released from that public park, and Nevan’s bodily injuries taken more seriously, the family will continue to be in unrest, and so will the community.