Prosecutor rules hanging death of Black man in Morris County a suicide

Cyril Josh Barker | 10/8/2020, midnight
The death of Black man found hanging from a tree in Morris County has been ruled a suicide by a ...
Amani Kildea Family photo

The death of Black man found hanging from a tree in Morris County has been ruled a suicide by a prosecutor.

Amanual “Amani” Kildea’s body was found hanging from a tree in Lewis Morris Park in Morris Township, N.J. on June 28. Law enforcement officials ruled the death of the 20-year-old a suicide, however his family and local activists believe Kildea was the victim of a lynching.

Kildea was reportedly well-known for exposing alleged child-sex predators with the online team PedoGotCaught. The group goes after people who try to meet up with minors for sex by communicating with them online; it later exposes them on social media.

The death was investigated by Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp, however, activists wanted the death to be investigated by the state.

“We have been forced to conclude that this investigation was insufficient given Prosecutor Knapp’s failure to provide the Morris County community with the pertinent details of Amani’s death,” Black Lives Matter Morristown founder T’Anna Kimbrough said at the time. “It is obvious that there is and continues to be, a rush to judgment without thoroughly investigating all of the facts when it pertains [to] the death of Black people.”

At the time when Kildea’s body was found, reports of other Black men found hanging from trees were reported across the nation. The body of 38-year-old Malcolm Harsch was found hanging from a tree in Victorville, California near a homeless encampment with an HDMI cord and the body of 27-year-old Bronx resident Dominique Alexander was found hanging from a tree in Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park.

Last week, Knapp along with Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Acting Chief of Investigations Christoph Kimker and Morris County Park Police Chief Gabe DiPietro announced the investigation into Kildea’s death and rules it a suicide.

According to the prosecutor’s office, Kildea purchased the rope used in this incident from a Morris County home improvement center earlier on June 28.

“Kildea was alone at the time of purchase,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. “Additional investigation revealed evidence that Kildea had conducted multiple internet searches related to suicide. The investigation did not reveal any evidence of criminality, nor is there any evidence of a connection between Kildea’s suicide and any other person or group.”