The family of a 15-year-old Black boy found dead in a Louisiana sugar cane field have questioned police’s handling of his disappearance and death, and are demanding further investigation.
Quawan “Bobby” Charles was found dead by authorities on Nov. 3, days after the family told authorities he was missing, according to The Acadiana Advocate.
Autopsy reports attributed Charles’ death to a drowning, but his family says that “his face says different,” the Washington Post reported.
The family created a GoFundMe that includes a graphic picture of Charles’ face next to the photo of Emmett Till, who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955.
The photo shows extreme trauma to Charles’ face — though the Iberia Parish coroner said the damage was due to “aquatic animals,” Charles’ family said that’s “bogus.”
Relatives of a 15-year-old Black boy in Louisiana are questioning the way authorities handled his death and disappearance, and have compared it to the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955.
Though authorities have said Quawan “Bobby” Charles drowned to death, Charles’ cousin Celina Charles told The Washington Post “his face says different.”
Charles’ body was discovered on November 3 in a sugar cane field after a search by Iberia Parish deputies. The discovery occurred several days after his family told authorities in Baldwin, Louisiana, he was missing, according to The Acadiana Advocate.
The publication reported that Charles was last seen leaving his father’s home in Baldwin on October 30 with an unidentified friend and his mother. The family said their concerns about his disappearance were initially dismissed by the Baldwin Police Department, which said Charles could be at a football game, according to the report.
The boy’s family, as well as activists, questioned why the department had not issued an Amber Alert after they first reported him missing in late October, according to the Acadiana Advocate.
“It’s almost as though they tried to sweep this under the rug,” Celina Charles told the newspaper. “We not only feel like the family has been let down, but the community, the public, the media. Everybody has questions, not only the family. He was only 15. It could have been anybody’s child.”
Charles’ family has also questioned authorities’ account of his death.
“When you see his mangled body it does not look like he drowned, “the family’s attorney, Ron Haley, told TMZ on Friday.
As KATC reported, the family wants an independent autopsy due to the state of Charles’ body. Photos of the teenager’s body sparked outrage on social media when the family posted a triggering and graphic photo of his body side-by-side with that of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boy in Mississippi who was brutally murdered and whose image became a catalyst for the civil rights movement.
The Iberia Parish coroner said in an autopsy report that the damage to Charles’ face was caused by “aquatic animals,” but the boy’s family has called that explanation “bogus,” according to The Post.
A GoFundMe for the family to help cover costs related to this situation has garnered nearly $250,000 so far.
The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Saturday that deputies are thoroughly investigating Charles’ death.
“I want to assure the public that I, and my team, are doing everything we can, and following every lead, to gather evidence into what happened in the untimely death of Quawan “Bobby” Charles,” Sheriff Tommy Romero said in the statement. “Any loss of life is a tragedy and that is especially true when it is a young person. Although we believe it is important not to compromise any part of our investigation, we are prepared to release some details so that the public can be assured we are not resting in our effort to find the truth.”
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