NAACP, family ask for federal review of Bladenboro teen’s death
RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) — The North Carolina NAACP today asked the US Attorney in Raleigh for a full, federal review of the death of a Bladenboro teen.
Lennon Lacy, 17, was found hanging from a swing set in Bladenboro the morning of Aug. 29. Following autopsy results that ruled Lacy died by hanging with no indication of foul play, the teen’s family said they still want answers after rumors surrounding details in the case.
Standing with Lacy’s mother and brother at a news conference in Raleigh this afternoon, NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber said Lacy’s family requested the civil rights group’s help searching for the truth about what happened to the teen.
“No one knows for sure what happened that terrible night,” Barber said. “What has concerned us and the family is the local authorities’ seeming desire for quick answers.”
Barber several times compared Lacy’s death to that of Emmett Till, a black teen hanged in Mississippi on Aug. 28, 1955, and whose death became a key force in the fight for civil rights in the United States. Barber says the hanging of young black men in the south has and is typically an act of “political assassination.”
Barber questioned if the details had been reversed, if Lacy had been white and found in a predominantly black neighborhood, would there have been such a quick determination his death was a suicide. He also questioned why Lacy’s mother telling an investigator her son was “depressed” about the recent death of his uncle was given so much weight in ruling Lacy’s death a suicide, and why her statement upon seeing his body “They have killed my son” was not given such weight.
Barber said at a memorial service for Lacy many community members, black and white, told NAACP investigators they had evidence of foul play. While he admitted they don’t know whether that information is correct, he wondered if the claims had been thoroughly investigated.
Barber said Lacy’s family and the NAACP cannot yet accept the determination that Lacy killed himself until a thorough investigation has been completed. Among the questions they have is why he would have killed himself the night before his first high school football game of the season, why he was wearing old, laceless shoes that did not fit and not his new sneakers and why he would have killed himself in the middle of a predominantly white mobile home park.
A forensics expert working with the NAACP on the case said while there were questions about what looked like injuries to Lacy’s head and face, she now believes that was a result of the embalming process at the funeral home.
Lacy’s mother Claudia said she felt SBI investigators interrogated her as a suspect in her son’s death as they tried to confirm the determination of suicide as his cause of death.
“I want to know why does the investigator want to make me out to be a liar?” Claudia Lacy said. “As a mother of a deceased son, I just want to know what happened to Lennon Lee Lacy.”
Barber said the family is prepared to accept the ruling of suicide if they feel the investigation is complete and the evidence validates that as the cause of death.
District Attorney Jon David has told WWAY on several occasions that so far there have been no signs of foul play, but that the investigation continues. David was in a trial this afternoon and not immediately available for comment on the latest developments.
“I thank God for honoring me as his mother,” Claudia Lacy said, “and all I want is justice.”
Barber said a preliminary review by a pathologist hired by the NAACP will be released in the coming days. He said moving forward media requests to talk to the family should go through the NAACP.