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Family and Civil Rights Community Respond to Marco McMillian Autopsy Results, Demand Answers and Federal Investigation

Contact: 
Michael J. Brewer | Email: mbrewer@nbjc.org | Phone: 202-319-1552 x 104

 

Clarksdale, MS - Thursday, May 9, 2013 - In response to the autopsy results of the late Marco McMillian, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), Parks & Crump law firm, and the McMillian family demanded a federal investigation at a national press conference held this morning. NBJC secured Parks & Crump, the Trayvon Martin family attorneys, to represent Patricia and Amos Unger, parents of the deceased Black, gay mayoral candidate. Both were present at today's press conference, which was held at the family's home in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

 

On February 27, the body of Marco McMillian was found on the Mississippi River levee. Local authorities have ruled his case a homicide, but there are conflicting reports and speculation around the motive.The Coahoma County Sheriff's Office announced that a suspect, Lawrence Reed, faces a murder charge in the death. Reed, 22, was found in McMillian's wrecked SUV. He later provided authorities with the location of the victim's body. The suspect is currently in police custody.

"An arrest without answers is no arrest at all," says Daryl Parks, Esq. of Parks & Crump, LLC, Marco McMillian's family attorney. "It has been 71 days since Marco McMillian's body was found on the Mississippi River levee and we're left with too many unanswered questions."

Some say the two were romantically involved while others are pleading the "gay panic" defense, insinuating that McMillian made unwanted advances to Reed. A recent autopsy report states that the suspect admitted to killing McMillian and that the victim died from lack of oxygen. The report goes on to detail that blunt force trauma most likely contributed to the Clarksdale mayoral candidate's death, but what exactly caused the asphyxiation remains unknown. The report also notes that there were abrasions and lacerations on McMillian's head, back and legs, and multiple "areas of second and third degree burns," and that "the manner of death is homicide."

"Marco was a dedicated public servant and he was brutally murdered," saysSharon Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director and CEO. "He was tortured. No human being deserves to die that way."

On March 5, almost two months before the autopsy results were released, the National Black Justice Coalition called on the Department of Justice to investigate McMillian's murder as a potential hate crime. Lettman-Hicks submitted a letter to the Attorney General, The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr. urging their involvement. On May 1, McMillian's mother made a heartfelt plea to the Coahoma County Sheriff's Office pointing out the discrepancies in the local investigation.

Mississippi hate crime statutes do not include sexual orientation and gender identity, resulting in no state legislative protection for the LGBT community. According to a 2011 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) report, there has been a spike in Mississippi anti-gay and racially-motivated hate crimes.

"The conflicting reports, the current racial and anti-LGBT climate in Mississippi and the lack of state protections for LGBT individuals are justification enough for a federal investigation," says Lettman-Hicks. "NBJC is standing firmly with Marco McMillian's family so that their concerns do not fall on deaf ears. We want answers and we want them now."

News Coverage

NY Times.com: Family of Slain Candidate Seeks Federal Inquiry

Associated Press: Family Demands Answers in Candidate's Death