Holder On Black Man Found Hanging In Mississippi: We Need More Facts

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Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday said that there was “a substantial federal presence” in Claiborne County, Miss. helping to investigate the death of a black man who was found hanging from a tree.

“We’re trying to determine exactly what happened, the FBI, the [Department of Justice] Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi are looking into the matter to determine if there are any federal violations of law that occurred if there’s potential hate crime,” Holder said in an interview with MSNBC.

He echoed local law enforcement on the case, which have said they had yet to determine whether the man’s death was a homicide or suicide after his body was discovered on Thursday.

“We simply don’t know enough facts at this point. We’re still in the process of gathering those facts,” Holder said.

Law enforcement have not yet identified the dead man, but family members and a civil rights group have said the man was Otis Byrd, 54, who lived in a house not far from where the body was discovered. Byrd, a convicted killer who was released from prison in 2006, was last seen on March 2 when a friend dropped him off at a casino.

Wilson Stribling, a reporter with local station WLBT, told MSNBC anchor Peter Alexander that he had spoken with Byrd’s family.

“They can’t imagine that he would take his own life. They also can’t imagine someone would want to take his life,” Stribling said.

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