The family of an eight year-old Claremont, N.H. boy is calling into question the police department’s initial handling of an incident they say was a racially motivated lynching attack.
The state attorney general's office is now assisting Claremont investigators with their work.
The boy's family has allowed his name, Quincy, to be used in media. NHPR's Upper Valley reporter Britta Greene spoke by phone Friday with Quincy's uncle, Lyric Merlin.
She first asked him to describe the response from the Claremont Police. You can listen to that conversation or read the transcript below.
Note: No one from the Claremont police department was available today to comment. The following transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.
LM: When my sister called the police, they dispatched an officer...he questioned my nephew right in front of the boys, so it wasn't really handled properly from the get-go. If this were adults, that would have never happened. Then, when I went to my sister's house to find out what the next step was and what they were going to do, she said they told us there's not enough evidence, and that struck me as odd considering it's the testimony of a child who clearly has rope burns and bruising and open wounds on his neck.
BG: They said there wasn't enough evidence to continue an investigation?
BG: And this was after he returned from the hospital.
LM: Yeah. So after that my sister has posted on Facebook and I created my own post and apparently it really got shared a lot. A lot of people were reaching out and my youngest nephew fell ill - my sister was in the hospital with him, he was discharged yesterday - and it seems like when my sister's boyfriend had contacted the police, at that point, once everything started getting more visibility, that's when they actually said, "We'll continue to look into it" - they changed their tone - but they had been brushing my sister off and not answering any phone calls or anything before this all happened. So, it definitely took the publicity and visibility to motivate the police to look into this seriously.
BG: Are you confident in the investigation now that the state is involved?
LM: You know I'm not really sure because I felt from the beginning that there wasn't enough neutrality. It was very very clear that there was a bias toward the perpetrators - the other kids involved in this - and he, Mark Chase, made it very clear in his statement. Maybe he didn't think before he spoke, but that set the tone for the way this is going and not one time did they discuss hopes for Quincy getting better, or having a full recovery from this emotionally and physically...it's been about, you know, these boys, and not wanting their mistakes to follow them. I think that says it all right there.
BG: Is there anything else that you want to add, or clarify? Is there something that hasn't been reported that you want people to know?
LM: It's important people understand that there can't be any sugar-coating with this issue. There reality is, there's been a rope. There's a rope and an eight year-old child who - if Quincy were any smaller than he is - he's a pretty stocky little boy - if he were any smaller than he is than he would never have been able to free himself from that rope, and then we would have an entirely different situation on our hands. So it's so important that people take this seriously and that the investigators really look at this from a perspective of even if it wasn't racially motivated, which it clearly was, the knowledge that death comes from hanging was certainly there.