Rasheem Carter's Cause of Death Undetermined as Ben Crump Says Young Dad Was ‘Intentionally Dismembered’
Crump tells Inside Edition Digital “it's hard after certain times to be able to come up with a cause of death when a person has been brutally killed in that manner.”
The body of Rasheem Carter, a 25-year-old Black man who was found dead in a wooded area a month after being last seen at a hotel, was "intentionally dismembered," his family's attorney Ben Crump tells Inside Edition Digital, classifying the young man's death as "a modern day Mississippi lynching."
Carter was last seen was last seen on Oct. 2, 2022, at a Super 8 Hotel in Laurel, according to a missing person's report posted on Facebook from the Laurel Police Department. On Nov. 2, 2022, remains confirmed to be Carter's were found in a wooded area of Taylorsville, about 21 miles away from where he was reportedly last seen, according to a Facebook post from the Smith County Sheriff's Office.
Carter's loved ones immediately suspected foul play in his death and called for a federal investigation into the case after they say he was decapitated and believe he was the target of a lynch mob. The findings of a forensic anthropology examination released this week noted it could not determine Carter’s cause of death.
Officials with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said a forensic anthropology examination of Carter was completed by the Mississippi State Medical Examiner’s Office on Feb. 2, 2023, and there was no means by which the cause of death could be reasonably determined by the medical examiner’s office.
That autopsy also noted evidence that Carter’s remains had been scavenged by animals, according to a copy obtained by CNN. The condition of Carter’s remains meant the state medical examiner could not reasonably determine a cause of death, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said in a statement to Inside Edition Digital.
“It's hard after certain times to be able to come up with a cause of death when a person has been brutally killed in that manner," Crump tells Inside Edition Digital.
Crump and Carter's family's demands for justice come after they say officials overseeing the investigation into Carter's death appeared to almost immediately rule out any need for further investigation. After Carter's remains were found, the Smith County Sheriff's office said authorities had "no reason to believe foul play was involved."
"The sheriff from day one made a conclusion that there was no foul play and so his parents and family have very little trust in the Mississippi law enforcement authorities," Crump says.
Reiterating that Carter's death is "a modern day Mississippi lynching," Crump pointed to the condition Carter's body was in when it was found.
"A head being decapitated seems to be not something that animals would do, but it seems like people would do,” Crump says.
Crump, who began representing Carter's family last month, says the young man's death “certainly shocked the conscience.”
“Ms. Tiffany Carter and her family, they were desperate for somebody to help them get some answers, and so we took the case with hope to get attention so people will start talking and we can get the proof of what happened and we believe we're going to make progress,” he says. “People are talking about it and we know now that they're not going to be able to sweep Rasheem Carter's death under the rug.”
Carter’s family says the day before he vanished, he went to the Taylorsville Police Department, his mother, Tiffany, told reporters at a news conference earlier this month. He told his mother he was going to the police because "three truckloads of White guys [were] trying to kill him," she said.
Crump has formally asked the U.S. Department of Justice to become involved in the case, telling Inside Edition Digital that the agency "can come and not use people who are familiar with the law enforcement and a lot of the parties of interest to be completely objective."
Carter's ATM card was allegedly used after he was found dead, Crump says. The DOJ could also aid Crump in obtaining surveillance footage of "who tried to use his ATM card after he went missing," he says.
The DOJ has not yet responded to Crump's request, he says, noting that it can take up to four weeks for the agency to do so. Carter's family has also called on the FBI to become involved, Crump's co-council, Carlos Moore, told Inside Edition Digital in a statement last week.
“We have to find the truth of what happened to Rasheem Carter or the, who did this to Rasheem Carter, because his life mattered. His Black life matters, but specifically he mattered, even in a state like Mississippi, he mattered,” Crump says.
When reached for comment, the Taylorsville Police department referred Inside Edition Digital to the Smith County Sheriff's department, saying they are handling the case. The Smith County Sheriff's department has not responded to Inside Edition Digital for comment.
Laurel Police Department Spokesman Tommy Cox tells Inside Edition Digital that the department treated Carter's disappearance as a "missing persons case, until we handed it off to another jurisdiction when he was found."
The Laurel Police Department also "followed up with other jurisdictions and we put in work on a missing persons case to try and help the family out while he worked in Taylorsville, which is 20 something miles from here, in another jurisdiction. He never contacted the Laurel Police. We never had face-to-face contact with him," Cox says.
Carter leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter who he was working to provide for.
“His mother said he was just an incredible son and an incredible dad. He was trying to do everything right. The reason he was working over there, two counties away, was he wanted to provide for his daughter,” Crump says.
Carter treated his daughter "like a princess," Crump says, noting Carter's mother told him that he "would actually have daddy-daughter dates with her to the movies and to her friends' birthday parties."
"He always tried to help her make ends meet. And as she said, he just had that incredible smile that brightened up a room," Crump says. “I didn't get to meet Rasheem Carter in life, but I've heard so many people talk about the nature of his character in death, and all we can say is, what a loss for the human race."
Crump, who has represented the families of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tyre Nichols, says that he is trying to use all his resources “to be able to try to prevent so many Black men and Black women from being killed unjustly. Whether it's at the hands of police or citizens who don't respect their humanity.”
“We have to use whatever education and resources we have to be social engineers for change and justice," says Crump, who said Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Thurgood Marshall is his personal hero.
“What we're trying to do is make a better world for all our children where Rasheem Carter would've lived to see his 26th birthday. He would've lived to be see his daughter turn seven years old. He would've lived to be able to help take care of his mother,” Crump says. “That's what we're looking for and to try to prevent any other Rasheem Carters. So how does it make me feel? It makes me feel that we have more work to do and I know that we will ultimately win this war. The enemies of equality won't win this war. And no matter how daunting it seems, no matter how stacked the odds may be against us, I continue to strike a match versus cursing the darkness.”
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is urging anyone who has any information on Carter's death to submit any tips they have to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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