Justice Department drops investigation of black man’s hanging in Mississippi
The U.S. Justice Department said on Friday it was closing its investigation into the death of a black man found hanging from a tree in Mississippi in March after finding no evidence to prove it was a homicide.
Federal investigators joined the probe into the circumstances of Otis James Byrd’s death after the 54-year-old man went missing for more than two weeks before being found in a wooded area about half a mile (0.8 km) from his home in a rural part of western Mississippi.
The Mississippi chapter of the NAACP had called for a federal investigation into Byrd’s death amid fears it may have been a racially motivated hate crime.
But the Justice Department said it would not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges.
“After a careful and thorough review, a team of experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents determined that there was no evidence to prove that Byrd’s death was a homicide,” the department said in a statement.