Civil rights attorney, activists join family to discuss death of Mikayla Miller

HOPKINTON, Mass. — For the first time we are hearing from the mother of the Hopkinton teen found dead respond to the results from the medical examiner.

“Mikayla is a big part of my life that is now gone,” said an emotional Calvina Strothers, Mikayla’s mother.

She says she can accept the Medical Examiner saying the cause of Mikayla Miller’s death was asphyxiation by hanging, but she can’t accept the manner of death was a suicide.

“I don’t believe that my daughter committed suicide, so that’s not something that I’m even entertaining at all,” said Strothers.

Newly-acquired civil rights attorney Ben Crump says although busy dealing with several national cases that come across his desk, he chose to get involved in Mikayla’s case, saying it struck him the same way as the cases of Breonna Taylor and Ahmad Aubrey.

“When I first talked to those parents and they talked about how their child was dead and nobody seemed to care, nobody wanted to try to help them, get to the truth,” said Crump. “Do not believe that she committed suicide, especially being found standing, upright not hanging and a belt tied around her neck... defies common sense. Really, when you asked this family, just to take our word for it, it was suicide and to offer them nothing further.”

According to the National Black Justice Coalition and others involved in the case, there are a few key factors around Mikayla’s death that just don’t add up. They raised these 5 concerns during a phone call Wednesday, and they stated the following:

  • There is no way that Mikayla could have killed herself. She was found standing upright, with a belt tied around her neck, which was tied to a tree that was neither tall nor sturdy enough to withstand her body weight. The belt did not belong to either Mikayla or her mother.
  • Mikayla was assaulted by five white teenagers the night before her mysterious death. According to those familiar with the incident, Mikayla met up with her ex-girlfriend who was set to return her personal belongings to her at her apartment complex’s clubhouse. When they met up, her ex-girlfriend was joined by four white teenagers, two boys over the age of 18 who drove in from a nearby town.
  • After telling her mother, Strothers reported the incident to the police. Mikayla then left her home to go to the clubhouse around 9:30 p.m. This was the last time she was seen alive.
  • The video cameras usually operating in the clubhouse were mysteriously not working on April 17 or April 18.
  • According to Strothers, the police originally showed little interest in investigating Mikayla’s death and threatened Strothers with exposing her daughter’s sexuality publically if she reported the matter to the media. Strothers emphasized that a case involving a white child in Mikayla’s position would have received immediate attention.

District Attorney Marian Ryan did not want to comment on the statements made in Wednesday’s phone call but says the investigation remains ongoing and she continues to promise full transparency.

Ryan previously called the case an unspeakable tragedy and added that so far, there is no evidence suggesting anyone else was with Mikayla at the time of her death.

Another allegation made on the call was that two of the kids involved in the fight with Mikayla the day she died are actually tied to the police department. The family reps said they were looking to confirm that allegation. Hopkinton Police told Boston 25 one of the teens had a grandfather who was a member of the force 40 years ago. That person died in 2001 and there are no current connections to the police department by any of the teens.

They were joined by the media to ask questions concerning the circumstances of her death. Monica Cannon-Grant, CEO and founder of Violence in Boston, spoke on behalf of Mikayla’s family stating that there are many inconsistencies in this case.

Tito Jackson, former Boston City Councilor, started the meeting by saying it’s “indisputable” her death was a homicide.

Strothers says that she and her daughter were very close and had a great relationship and that “she is not entertaining suicide as a cause of death at all.” Calvina stated she believes her daughter was killed by the five teens that had assaulted her daughter the night before.

“The conclusion that they made yesterday, is the conclusion, they made the first day they walked into my house. There’s no difference, but I know the truth and it’s not what they say,” Strothers added. She says the case was mishandled from Day 1. “What he said specifically to me was he would recommend that I don’t go to the media because then my daughter’s sexuality would be exposed,” she said.

Cannon-Grant says her Violence in Boston Inc. company paid for the private autopsy ordered by Mikayla Miller’s family and the family’s attorney Ben Crump said the results of the autopsy will be released soon after they speak with the medical examiner.

Jackson, Cannon-Grant, and Johns all shared concerns about a lack of communication from the Middlesex DA’s office and Hopkinton police that were on the case with the family, discussing how the media had received information before the family was even made aware.

Cannon-Grant stated that DA Marian Ryan wrote in her first press release that no foul play had been suspected.

“Weird thing to say for a case that hasn’t been investigated,” said Cannon-Grant.

She also mentioned that new information had been released from Hopkinton police regarding the case only an hour before the phone conference.

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