05/29/2015 02:31 pm ET Updated May 29, 2016

Justice Department Drops Investigation Of Black Man's Hanging In Mississippi

Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

May 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said on Friday it was closing its investigation into the death of a black man found hanging from a tree in Mississippi in March after finding no evidence to prove it was a homicide.

Federal investigators joined the probe into the circumstances of Otis James Byrd's death after the 54-year-old man went missing for more than two weeks before being found in a wooded area about half a mile (0.8 km) from his home in a rural part of western Mississippi.

The Mississippi chapter of the NAACP had called for a federal investigation into Byrd's death amid fears it may have been a racially motivated hate crime.

But the Justice Department said it would not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges.

"After a careful and thorough review, a team of experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents determined that there was no evidence to prove that Byrd's death was a homicide," the department said in a statement. (Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Will Dunham)



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