Rasheem Carter – a black Mississippi man who was found dead last year, allegedly after telling police he was worried he would be hurt – was beheaded, his family and their lawyers said Monday.
“What that tells us is that this was a shameful act, this was an evil act. Someone murdered Rasheem Carter,” famous civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump claimed. “And we can’t let them get away with it. I mean, if you look at these pictures that were taken at the autopsy, it tells you there’s nothing natural about it. It cries out for justice.”
Hours before the 25-year-old’s mysterious disappearance in early October, Carter had gone to the Taylorsville Police Department for help after telling his mother over the phone that he was being followed by white men, his mother Tiffany Carter previously said.
While authorities initially said there was no evidence of foul play, Crump said an independent autopsy — and the fact that his spinal cord was found in a different location to the rest of his remains — suggests otherwise.
“We have heard that they believe they may have discovered other remains of his body which they have not yet disclosed the use of,” Crump said at Monday’s news conference.
Neither the Taylorsville Police Department nor the Smith County Sheriff’s Department immediately responded to requests for comment.
Carter’s family, accompanied by Crump and local attorney Carlos Moore, are now demanding that the US Department of Justice intervene in the case.
For months, Tiffany has called for Carter to investigate more closely how her son, whose remains were found in a wooded area on November 2 last year, died – and she blames local police for failing to prevent his death.
“He was being followed by three truckloads of people. He went to the police. You should have tried to find out who was in those trucks,” Crump insisted in US District Court in Jackson, Mississippi.
On Monday, Tiffany read a text from Carter worrying that a colleague at work “made these guys kill me.”
He disappeared shortly after sending that message, Crump said. “And then his remains were found with his head severed from his body, his spinal cord severed from his head and his other body parts still missing. Tiffany deserves answers,” he added.
According to family reports to local media, Carter did not get his usual ride home from work in Taylorsville, Mississippi, on Oct. 1 last year and had to walk.
When he contacted his family this weekend, he was concerned, they said.
“He was on the phone with his mother on October 2nd and he was panicking,” Carter’s aunt, Marnee Tompkins, told the Jackson Advocate.
Carter, father of a 6-year-old, had reportedly personally appealed to the police for help on October 1 and 2 at his mother’s urging. At the train station, he asked for a ride to Laurel – where he was staying in a Motel 8 – and told them he was afraid of getting hurt, the family said.
“He told them someone was trying to harm him and I heard him say that, but they told me he never said anyone was trying to harm him,” Tiffany Carter told the Vicksburg Daily News . “They barely knew I was on the phone when he said it. He personally told me over the phone that there were three white trucks full of white men.”
When a friend was able to pick him up from the police station on the afternoon of October 2, Carter was nowhere to be found, according to the Vicksburg Daily News. And a month later, his remains were finally discovered.
“To [authorities], he never appeared to be in any distress or anything, and he never mentioned being in imminent danger,” Smith County Sheriff Joel Houston told the Vicksburg Daily News in November. “They offered him a call and he said he had a phone and they even offered him a charger but the charger available didn’t fit his phone so he was just trying to find a ride to Laurel when he came in contact with the police.”
After Carter’s remains were found, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office said they had “no reason to believe foul play was involved, but the case is still under investigation.”
The last video image of Carter in the area was from a local landowner’s camera with a stick in hand, according to the Vicksburg Daily News.
“It looks like he knows someone is after him and it looks like he’s holding a stick so I don’t know if anyone was chasing him but he has bruises and a laceration at the hairline,” Tiffany also told the newspaper.
On Monday, the crowd demanded justice, shouting, “Someone saw what happened to Rasheem!”