A family in Missouri wants answers after police quickly ruled the death of Deontae Martin–a Black 19-year-old–a suicide.
Martin was found dead in what police said was a suicide last month, but his family insists that the story isn’t adding up and that further answers are needed following the tragedy.
According to reports from the Associated Press, Martin’s mother, grandmother, and activists have all come together to question the police’s handling of the situation. The 19-year-old was found dead after he attended a prom party in rural Missouri two weeks ago, and following their ruling, it has been suggested by many that police were too quick to rule Deontae’s death a suicide.
The prom party that Martin attended was reportedly hosted at the home of a man who has expressed racist views on Facebook. If you’ve ever gone through the process of blocking your MAGA friends on that app, you already know exactly the type of posts he shared, including some defending the Confederate flag and also sharing a meme featuring a middle finger that reads, “Here’s my apology for being white.”
This man hasn’t been named in the case since he has not been charged with a crime, but Martin was found dead in the attic of his home in the early hours of April 25.
While Madison County Sheriff Katy McCutcheon said the autopsy pointed towards a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, she did not specify who owned the gun. Since her determination, she has reportedly declined to comment on the situation and police have yet to release any information as to how Martin might’ve gotten ahold of the gun.
Last week, Deontae’s family met with Missouri’s prosecuting attorney to request another investigation into Martin’s death.
“The whole thing is that it was a suspicious death,” said Reverend Darryl Gray, a well-known activist in St. Louis. “How and why did Derontae end up in the house at this party, and how did he end up in the attic? At the very least…there is negligence here.”
Martin’s mother, Ericka Lotts, said that she doubts Martin would’ve killed himself. Not only that, at the time of his death, he had a full cast on his right arm, which was broken, making the self-inflicted gun shot even less likely.
“All I do know is that somebody shot him,” his mother said.