Derontae Martin, a 19-year-old former football standout St. Louis, Missouri, was found dead in what police are now claiming was a suicide last month. His family is now questioning the official account of the teenager's death.
According to the Associated Press, Martin's mother, grandmother and activists are raising doubts over the police's handling of the investigation into his death and are saying that the police were too quick to rule it as suicide.
Martin Found Dead After Prom Party at House of Man 'Known to be Racist'
Martin was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head after attending a prom party in rural Missouri last month. The party was at the home of a middle-aged white man who has a history of posting racist posts on social media. According to Complex, the man hosting the party has defended the Confederate flag in the past and also shared a meme featuring a middle finger that reads, "Here's my apology for being white."
The individual has not yet been identified as he has not been charged with a crime but Martin was found dead in the attic of his home, near the Madison County town of Fredericktown, in the early hours of April 25.
Family Says He Was Right-Handed and was Wearing a Cast on His Broken Arm
Madison County Sheriff Katy McCutcheon said the autopsy pointed towards a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, although she did not specify who the gun belonged to. She has reportedly declined to comment on the situation, and police have yet to release any information as to how Martin might've gotten a hold of the weapon. Martin's family met with Missouri's prosecuting attorney last week to request another investigation into Martin's death.
Ericka Lotts, Martin's mother, said that she doubts Martin would've killed himself. because at the time of his death, he had a full cast on his right arm, which was broken. "All I do know is that somebody shot him," she said.
The investigation has also been met with broad skepticism from racial injustice activists, about 100 of whom staged a protest march in Fredericktown last week. During the protest, counter-protestors hurled two nooses at the demonstrators and hurled racial slurs at them.
"The whole thing is that it was a suspicious death," said Rev. Darryl Gray, a well-known St. Louis activist, "How and why did Derontae end up in the house at this party, and how did he end up in the attic? At the very least ... there is negligence here."