Family Asks FBI to Investigate Mysterious Death of Black Teen as a Hate Crime

Illustration for article titled Family Asks FBI to Investigate Mysterious Death of Black Teen as a Hate Crime
Screenshot: JaQuarius Taylor (Facebook)

Black people are paranoid.

They are susceptible to conspiracy theories and unfounded suspicions. There are some black people who believe that the U.S. government would spray black neighborhoods with toxic chemicals; that doctors would use us as guinea pigs by giving us fake medicine; that there are cops who belong to the Ku Klux Klan; or—and I know this sounds crazy—that Russian bots targeted black voters so white people could elect a racist president.


Black people should be paranoid.

This is probably why the family of a deceased Louisiana teenager is calling for the FBI to investigate his death as a possible hate crime after the teen, who some family members have reported as gay, was shot to death under mysterious circumstances.

On Sunday, Jan. 12, Tawasha Bonner says she woke up to discover that her son, JaQuarius Taylor wasn’t home, according to WWLTV. Bonner immediately called the Washington Parish, La. Sheriff’s Department and reported the 17-year-old missing. Less than an hour later, an unidentified person going to check water levels at a nearby lake discovered JaQuarius’ body.

According to an autopsy commissioned by the family, the teen was shot three times with guns of two different calibers, the Advocate reports. Investigators said they recovered a “key piece of evidence” after divers searched the lake but, so far, no one has been arrested for the crime. For now, family members are holding onto the memories of the high school senior who played drums in the marching band. JaQuarius’ mother says he would have been the first in his family to attend college, and desperately wants to know who killed her son and why.

Because of “perceived conflicts of interests and family relations,” JaQuarius’ family doesn’t trust the local sheriff’s department to complete a thorough and impartial investigation and have asked for the FBI to get involved.


“We would like for the federal government to come in and take over the investigation because we’re not very comfortable with the local police and the way they’ve done the investigation already,” Pastor Ken Owens told WWLTV. “We’re looking at this as a hate crime based on the race and sexual orientation of JaQuarius Taylor.”

“We are aware of the incident in Washington Parish and are presently assessing the circumstances surrounding this event,” the FBI said in a statement. “If information comes to light of a potential federal civil rights violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate.”


Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s department says the FBI is already involved along with other local and state agencies, noting that they will treat the teen’s death as a hate crime if the evidence supports that.

“Everything points to the fact that he was homosexual—people who knew him and who knew his lifestyle,” said Washington Parrish Chief Deputy Mike Haley. “Do we know that for a fact? No.”


The area is known for Klan activity, including the still-unsolved death of the parish’s first black deputy and the 2008 murder of a woman after a KKK initiation ceremony. But authorities also refute that there is a conflict of interest or that the murder may be related to racism or homophobia, saying there is “no evidence at all” that hate had anything to do with Taylor’s death

That might be the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.

Then again, I’m paranoid black.

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I’d like to think this is crazy talk...but I don’t.