The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) demanded that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) look into the death of a young Black Muslim man found hanging from a tree near his home in Lake Stevens in January.
A group of young people found Ben Keita, 18, hanging by a rope from a tree on Jan. 9. The teenager had been missing since Nov. 26.
The Medical Examiner initially ruled his death a suicide, but changed the decision to “undetermined.” The Keita family, CAIR and an interfaith group asked the FBI to fully investigate the situation. Local police had not questioned people close to Ben Keita, including his coworkers at the McDonald’s where he worked.
That left questions about the death that the community hopes the FBI will uncover, said Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of CAIR Washington.
“Our understanding from work with law enforcement is that they treat cases as a homicide unless other conflicting information emerges,” Bukhari said.
The group is asking the FBI to look into the matter, noting that it’s been more than a month since Ben Keita was found and the local police have not canvassed the neighborhood or questioned the coworkers.
The FBI is in communication with police and will “review them with consideration of federal law,” wrote Ayn Dietrich, a spokesperson for the FBI, in an e-mail. “If warranted, we may conduct further investigation,” she wrote.
Ibrahima and Aicha Keita, his parents, both attended the press conference. They described Ben Keita as a happy person, with no history of mental illness but a desire to enter a medical profession. He was a Running Start student, a program that allows high school students to enroll in community college classes.