The disappearance and drowning death of a 15-year-old Black boy in rural Louisiana has left his family looking for answers and saying that racism could have played a role in the response by law enforcement.
Quawan’s cousin Celina Charles called the drowning explanation “bogus” and the family has ordered an independent autopsy. A petition has garnered almost 10,000 signatures calling for an independent investigation.
Quawan’s parents reported his disappearance from his father’s home in Baldwin, La.,on Oct. 30, according to family attorney Ron Haley. The Baldwin Police Department took a report, Haley said, but gave no indication over the next few days that they were searching for the teen or actively investigating his disappearance. Instead, they suggested Quawan might have gone to a football game and asked if the boy had a troubled past, he said.
The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office referred questions to a Tuesday news release stating its investigators “have interviewed multiple individuals and collected physical evidence which is being processed.”
No suspects have been named in the case, and it has not been designated a homicide.
One resident, Tambara Bonnet, said she is not surprised by what she called a “weak” investigation by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“If it was a White kid, they would have looked for him right then and there,” she said.
Another resident, Kevin Archon, said he does not know Quawan’s family but finds it impossible that Quawan could have drowned in the ankle-high water they found there.
While Archon described some deputies as “cool people,” he thinks race has been a factor in the police response.
“If it was a White person — if it was one of their kids — people would have probably been in jail by now,” Archon said.
Relatives of Quawan have criticized authorities for not alerting local news or sending out an Amber Alert for Quawan when they reported him missing. They said the Baldwin police told them his disappearance was entered into an Amber Alert database but that state police must activate it, which did not happen.
Amber Alerts typically cannot be activated unless there is evidence the missing person is in grave danger.
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