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NC NAACP wants federal investigation into teen's hanging death

Posted November 18, 2014
Updated November 19, 2014

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— The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP is calling for a federal investigation into what it believes is the "race-based homicide" of a black 17-year-old Bladen County boy who was found hanging from a swing set this past summer.

Investigators ruled the death of Lennon Lee Lacy – discovered Aug. 29 on a playground in Bladenboro – a suicide, but Lacy's family and the NAACP are questioning the police investigation, saying detectives rushed to reach a conclusion and did not fully investigate all possible leads.

"What has concerned the family and us is the local authorities' seemingly impatient desire for easy answers," state NAACP President Rev. William Barber told reporters at a news conference in Raleigh Tuesday. "Questions remain."

Barber said he met with U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker for nearly 90 minutes Tuesday and that Walker said he will "thoroughly review" the request to determine if and how the U.S. Department of Justice should be involved.

Bladen County's district attorney, Jon David, defended the local investigation in a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying a preliminary review found that "it appears to be detailed, thorough and professional."

Both the State Bureau of Investigation and Bladenboro Police Department "have my office's absolute confidence," he added.

"My office and the investigating agencies have been, and remain, receptive to reviewing any and all information that would shed light on the circumstances surrounding Lacy's death," David said.

"In a show of transparency, we welcome federal investigators to review our file and join in the investigation if they so choose," David added. "At this point, my office has not been presented with any evidence to suggest that there was any foul play in the death of Lennon Lacy."

Lacy's mother, Claudia Lacy, spoke at Tuesday's news conference, saying that she's willing to accept the findings that her son killed himself but only after a more comprehensive investigation addresses other leads and information that haven't been thoroughly reviewed.

"God has prepared me for all things," she said. "With His grace and mercy, I've come this far. He's not going to leave me now."

Barber declined to comment on what information an independent review of the case has turned up but said his organization could release more details this week.

"There are facts that we can't talk about at this press conference," he said. "This is serious business, and we've asked the federal government and the FBI to come in."

Claudia Lacy said that her son, a junior and varsity football player at West Bladen High School, had goals for the future and had been excited about his first game of the school year after being sidelined for a season to work on his grades.

He had been grieving the recent passing of an uncle, and Claudia Lacy told investigators that he had been depressed.

But Barber said it was a word that she had used to describe his mourning and that Lennon Lacy had no history of mental illness and had never been diagnosed as clinically depressed.

The boy was found around 7:30 a.m. on the Friday of his first football game, wearing shoes that were two sizes too small – one of many things that has concerned the family.

By the time Claudia Lacy arrived, Barber said, her son's body had been placed in a body bag, and police had released the scene – a move also being criticized by the Lacy family's attorney, Heather Rattelade.

Guidelines and protocols on how to handle a possible crime scene weren't followed correctly in the case, Rattelade said.

"By 3:09 p.m., the lead investigator notified the medical examiner that he believed it was a suicide," she said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • NCSUer Nov 20, 2014

    Thanks for posting the Guardian link. That was a different side to this. If the remarks attributed to Newton were true, I think that is very significant. At the very least any compassionate individual should not give the family any grief over wanting a second investigation. I can't think of a parent who wouldn't want the same. This is a tragedy regardless.

  • ritablueboys1 Nov 20, 2014

    There's more to this story than what's being told on here...

  • notexactly Nov 20, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Um wake up. Your same ole excuses are old and wore out. Barber is a race baiter. He and people like you are why you guys got waxed a few Tuesdays ago. Our state is doing pretty good compared to others. Funny you will still complain and moan about the GOP, but you want hold Obama to your same demands that you hold the GOP to. WOW

  • glarg Nov 19, 2014

    View quoted thread

    There is no evidence of it being rushed. There were no signs of foul play. There were no reports of anyone having a fight or grudge against the kid.

    This "race-based homicide" is being invented out of thin air by a self promoter preying on a parent who doesnt want to believe their kid could be a suicide.

    Meanwhile once again poisoning race relations for his own benefit.

  • miseem Nov 19, 2014

    View quoted thread

    And I'm getting tired of the media not asking the state legislators what they have done about their promise to focus on jobs. Seems like they have been more concerned about people's bedrooms, limiting rights for for gay couples and voters, cutting rules to limit pollution, mandatory confiscation of land rights so frackers have free rein, limiting access to affordable health care and dozens of other issues having nothing to do with jobs. Once I see the media attack the GOP on those issues, I'll agree that Barber may be due for some criticism also.

  • moonpie Nov 19, 2014

    View quoted thread

    It seems that things may have been rushed. Nothing wrong with taking a second look, is there?

  • Larry Wiandt Nov 19, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


  • USMC Vet Nov 19, 2014

    View quoted thread


    I believe the decent folks within that culture do and are just as sick of hearing it as the rest of us are.

    Barber and his ilk give them all a bad rep, and that's a darn shame.

    But like all other cultures, until the good stand up and tell the whiners to behave, sit down and shut up, you can be certain sure that it will continue.

  • Larry Lynch Nov 19, 2014
    user avatar

    willie barbar and the local naacp brings a special kind of RACISM to the table of humanity. It is my hope the black community in general - whom I call the silent majority - recognize willie and his fanatics exactly for what they are-- anti- family, anti America, race baiting RACISTS.

  • Realthoughts Nov 19, 2014

    And should this just turn out be be a suicide, will Barber make any statements, apologizing and thanking the deputies and investigators doing their job? Crickets is what you will here.