Police in Orlando met with the family of Nevan Baker on Monday, showing them the evidence that led officers to rule Baker's Oct. 4 death a suicide, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The 22-year-old was found hanging from a noose tied to a tree at around 4 a.m. in Barker Park, near Camping World Stadium. A police report shared with the Orlando Sentinel said someone walking their dog found Baker and called 911.
Outrage over his death grew after rumors floated online that Baker's hands were tied behind his back, that he had bruises on his face and that some of his teeth were missing.
Nevan Baker was found HANGING from a tree in Orlando. @OrlandoPolice quickly ruled his death a suicide but now we learn his hands were tied, teeth missing and face bruised. We demand transparency and a comprehensive investigation so we know exactly what happened! #JusticeForNevan
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) October 11, 2020
But police have disputed this and met with Baker's mother to show her footage from the bodycam of an officer who was first on the scene. They allegedly showed her footage showing that Baker did not have his hands tied and was not injured.
Baker's mother, Sharhonda James, seemingly unconvinced by what the police showed her, told the Orlando Sentinel that she wanted more evidence, including any security camera footage they could find showing Baker walking into the park.
“We don’t have answers to everything. They tried to explain some things, but they still weren’t adding up,” James told the Orlando Sentinel.
The Orlando Police Department released a statement denying some of the rumors that had been floated on Facebook and Twitter.
UPDATE: Please see the statement below. pic.twitter.com/kZuejDWgis
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) October 12, 2020
"Today, Chief Orlando Rolon met with Nevan Baker's mother, other family members, and their lawyer to provide additional details on the investigation conducted by our detectives," the statement said.
"Some of the investigative details provided to family members include body worn camera video that showed Nevan's hands were not tied behind his back, and crime scene photos that illustrated Nevan had no bruising on his body," the statement continued.
Police officials also said they are still waiting on the final report from the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office, but noted that their initial findings ruled the death a suicide.
James has disagreed with the police assessment and told the Orlando Sentinel that when she saw her son's body, she saw bumps on his forehead, swelling on his nose and believed that his jaw was out of alignment.
When the newspaper spoke with Rev. Terence Gray, who was at the meeting with Baker's family, he had a different assessment of the police evidence that was shown to them.
“My heart goes out to the family, first and foremost. I left there with a clear understanding that he was a brother who had decided to take his life…There was no hands tied, there was no physical bruising,” Gray said.
There have been multiple protests in Baker's honor, with many calling for a deeper investigation into what happened.
“They were more worried about our social media posts and putting about false narratives, than really finding out [what happened],” community activist Miles Mulrain Jr. said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.
The family has started a GoFundMe and has already raised more than $11,500.
"Nevan Baker, who was only 22 years old, was found hanging from a tree in Orlando, Fl. This was an unexpected death that left my family with many unanswered questions behind his murder," the GoFundMe campaign page read.
"My brother had gave his life to Christ & was a good kid with aspirations of becoming an electrician. He was taken away from us & I’m asking for donations to help send him off with a proper burial," the campaign added.