ACLU Urges FBI to Investigate Hanging Death of a Muslim Teen

The American Civil Liberties of Washington has called on the FBI’s Seattle office to investigate the hanging death of an 18-year-old Muslim high school student who lived in Lake Stevens, Wash., near Everett.

The request was included in a letter the ACLU-Washington mailed to the FBI asking that the law enforcement agency “commit to a  comprehensive, thorough investigation” into the disappearance and death of Ben Keita, a senior at Lake Stevens High School.

Ben Keita
Ben Keita

Keita was reported missing on Nov. 27, 2016.  Lake Stevens police conducted helicopter and ground searches on November 30, December 1 and December 7 but were unsuccessful in finding him.

But on January 9th young people walking in the wooded area found Keita’s lifeless body hanging from a tree. His feet were eight feet off the ground, Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner initially ruled Keita’s death a suicide. It is not known if a suicide note was found.

The cause of death, however, was subsequently deemed undetermined for at least two reasons. One was that Keita’s family indicated that he was a happy young man who was doing well in school and that he had no history of either anxiety or depression.

The other reason given is that the rope used in Keita’s hanging was tied 50 feet up in the tree. The possibility that Keita had been lynched crossed the minds of many in the black community.

In a letter, Kathleen Taylor, ACLU executive director, wrote the Lake Stevens police investigation is reportedly still open and many pieces of the case remain uninvestigated.

The ACLU joins a growing number of community, faith-based and civil rights leaders urging the FBI to conduct a full investigation.

Anyone with knowledge about Keita’s death is being urged to contact the FBI at 206 622 0460.

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