Laurel Police Department
- The family of Rasheem Carter has alleged his death is a modern-day “lynching.”
- Carter’s family says he said he was being pursued by white men in trucks before he went missing.
- But police say they have “no reason” to believe there was foul play in the death of the young Black man.
The family of Rasheem Carter — a 25-year-old Black man from Fayette, Mississippi, who was found dead last year — has alleged his death is a modern-day “lynching.” They’ve accused local police of failing to investigate the crime and said Carter said he was being pursued by white men in trucks before he vanished.
But police say they have “no reason” to believe there was foul play and have suggested that animals may have ripped his body up.
As protestors and his family call for a federal investigation, here’s what we know about Carter’s death.
Carter was worried he would be killed in October 2022
Carter’s mother, Tiffany Carter, said during a press conference on Monday that her son called her on October 1, 2022 — a day before he was reported missing.
“My son told me it was three truckloads of white guys trying to kill him,” she said, explaining that she told him to go to the local police station in Taylorsville, Mississippi, for help.
She told local station WDAM in December that her son wanted a ride back to Laurel, where he lived, but police didn’t drive him back.
“They did not help him,” the mother said during Monday’s press conference. “He asked for help but they did not help.”
Taylorsville Police Chief Gabe Horn later told WDAM that he didn’t assign a police officer to return Rasheem Carter home because of staffing shortages.
“He told the officer that night that he and his roommates had a verbal disagreement and he felt threatened and that was it,” Horn told the outlet. He said officers offered to let him stay at the police department, but that Rasheem Carter left.
Sheriff Joel Houston of the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, which is handling the investigation into Rasheem Carter’s death, told the Vicksburg Daily News in a report published in November that the man didn’t say he was in danger when he went to the police.
“To them, he never seemed to be in any distress or anything and he never mentioned anything about being in immediate danger,” Houston told the news outlet.
“They offered him a phone call and he said he had a phone and they even offered him a charger but the charger that was available didn’t fit his phone, so he was just trying to find a ride back to Laurel when he came in contact with police,” Houston said.
The Smith County Sheriff’s Office and the Taylorsville Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment by Insider on Tuesday.
After his phone call, Tiffany Carter said her son texted her to say he and a business owner — whose identity she did not reveal — were not “seeing eye to eye.”
“If anything happened to me, he’s responsible for it. I’m too smart mama, he got these guys wanting to kill me,” Rasheem Carter texted, according to his mom.
Carter was reported missing on October 2
On October 2, 2022, Rasheem Carter’s family reported him missing to Mississippi’s Laurel Police Department, which said in a Facebook post that the man had been last seen that day at a local Super 8 hotel.
Laurel Police Chief Tommy Cox confirmed to Insider on Tuesday that the department was told at the time that Rasheem Carter had been staying at the hotel for work purposes and was traveling to Taylorsville about 20 miles away for his job.
According to the missing person report, Rasheem Carter’s mother told police that her son warned in a prior phone call that “three white trucks full of men [were] trying to kill him,” Cox told Insider.
Cox told Insider that police were “fairly certain” that Rasheem Carter had gone missing in nearby Taylorsville and later verified that he was last seen there.
Carter’s remains were discovered a month later in Taylorsville
The Smith County Sheriff’s Office said it found Rasheem Carter’s remains on November 2, 2022, just south of Taylorsville in a wooded area.
“At this time, we have no reason to believe foul play was involved, but the case is still under investigation,” the department said in a Facebook post at the time.
It added that other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, assisted in the “ongoing investigation.”
The sheriff’s office continued: “All details have been given solely to the mother, and if and when she wants anything additional released, or if we find anything else that the public needs to know, we will release that information at that time.”
A spokesperson for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, told Insider on Tuesday, “Based solely upon the condition of the remains, there was no means by which a cause of death could be reasonably determined by the Mississippi State Medical Examiner’s Office.”
The spokesperson said the agency couldn’t provide any “further comment or details pertaining to the death and disappearance of Mr. Carter due to it being a pending investigation by the Smith County Sheriff’s Department.”
The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Insider on Tuesday, but an FBI spokesperson told NBC News that the agency not currently involved in the case.
Protesters call for more investigations
In late December and February, family members and other protesters demonstrated near the police department, accusing police of not helping Carter when he came to them for help, according to WDAM.
“You leave a man out there 31 days, you knew he was out there,” Tiffany Carter said to WDAM in December 2022. “You knew he was out there. You did nothing but feed me lies about my son.”
Carter’s family alleges the man was ‘dismembered’ and ‘murdered’
Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Rasheem Carter’s family, told reporters on Monday that an independent autopsy revealed that Carter’s head was “severed” from his body and that his vertebrae and spinal cord were found in a different location.
Other body parts are still missing, according to Crump.
“What that tells us is that this was a nefarious act,” Crump said, alongside Carter’s mother. “This was an evil act. Somebody murdered Rasheem Carter. And we can not let them get away with this.”
Crump alleged that police “failed” to help Rasheem Carter.
“What we have is a Mississippi lynching. A Mississippi lynching in 2022,” Crump said.
Rasheem Carter’s family has called on the US Department of Justice to open an investigation into his death.
Police say there is no evidence that Rasheem Carter was murdered
Sheriff Houston told The Washington Post in a report published on Tuesday that he welcomed the DOJ joining the investigation.
“There is nothing to be swept under the rug or hidden in that nature,” Houston said.
Houston also told the news outlet “there’s no evidence to substantiate any” of Rasheem Carter’s family’s claims that the man was murdered.
“There’s no indication that someone killed him,” Houston said. “The evidence we do have does coincide with what animals would do to a body.”
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