Investigators rule out the possibility of hate crime prosecution for the death of Otis James Byrd
Investigators concluded that there was no evidence that a 54-year-old black man who was found hanging from a tree in Port Gibson, Mississippi was the victim of homicide, the Justice Department announced on Friday.
Officials with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division met with Byrd’s family on Friday to convey the news that the investigation would conclude without charges of a federal hate crime.
“After a careful and thorough review, a team of experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents determined that there was no evidence to prove that Byrd’s death was a homicide,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
“Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual willfully caused bodily injury because of the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity or disability.”