08172017Headline:

Marco McMillian’s Family Asking His Murder Be Treated as Hate Crime

Marco McMillian Marco McMillians Family Asking His Murder Be Treated as Hate Crime

McMillian was apparently beaten, dragged and set on fire before his body was located last Wednesday near the Mississippi River, according to a statement issued on Sunday by his family.

But a spokesman for the Coahoma County Sheriff’s Department, Will Rooker, told USA Today that the department won’t be exploring that option. The Sheriff’s department is working in conjunction with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

McMillian’s godfather, Carter Womack. said the 33-year-old was found naked, bruised and swollen. The information in the family’s statement was based on photographs the family saw, as well as two conversations it had with the coroner.

“We feel that this was not a random act of violence based on the condition of the body when it was found,” said a statement released by McMillian’s campaign.

As the first viable openly gay candidates to run for office in Mississippi, Womack said, McMillian was concerned about his safety.

“People had tried to talk him out of the race,” Womack said. “The family feels this ought to be investigated as a hate crime.”

McMillian’s body was found a day after his SUV was involved in a head-on collision outside Clarksdale. Authorities charged the driver of his SUV, 22-year-old Lawrence Reed of Clarksdale, with McMillian’s murder.

Though McMillian was not in the SUV at the time, investigators say he already was dead and had been dumped hours beforehand.

After the accident, Reed was airlifted to the Regional Medical Center at Memphis and released Saturday. He’s being held at the Shelby County Jail in Memphis, Tenn., until he can be extradited.

“This was a hate crime. I don’t care if the perpetrator was black, white, or polka dotted,” said Larry Nelson Sr., president and CEO of Victims Group of Violent Crimes in Jackson, Miss., who said he had spoken to McMillian just days before his death.

While Mississippi’s hate-crime law covers race, religion and gender, it doesn’t extend to sexual orientation, the local officials can seek federal assistance to pursue a federal hate crime, which does cover homosexuality. But Mississippi officials haven’t done so in this case.

Rooker offered no comment on the family’s statement. But Coahoma County Coroner Scotty Meredith said McMillian’s body wasn’t dragged behind a vehicle, but rather dragged from the vehicle to the spot where it was dumped.

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