As news spread several months ago about the severe sentencing of Manuel Alejandro Perez de Jesus, 26, for the murder of Malcolm Latif Shabazz, 28, many questions remained unanswered. Details about the killing of the grandson of Black Nationalist icon Malcolm X and wife Dr. Betty Shabazz remain sketchy.
“The circumstances surrounding his death are still not clear, and it is now February 2015,” said Sabrina Green, a human rights activist with the Baltimore-based Free the Move 9.
According to prosecutor Rodolfo Fernando Rios Garza, Shabazz arrived in Mexico City at the behest of Miguel Suarez, a Mexican labor activist with the organization Revolutionary United Mexicans in Combat, or RUMEC, whom he had befriended in the United States and had been recently deported to Mexico.
On the night of May 9, 2013, while at the Palace Club, a downtown bar, prosecutors contend that Shabazz consumed several drinks, saying he had a blood alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit for driving in the U.S. Allegedly, he and Suarez ran up a $1,200 bar tab, which included the companionship of women, after being bamboozled by local hustlers, who routinely prey on tourists.
As the pair tried to leave the bar at around 3 a.m., a confrontation occurred with two waiters, David Hernandez Cruz, 26, and Perez de Jesus. Shabazz and Suarez were supposedly separated by bar employees at gunpoint, but, for unknown reasons, only Shabazz was assaulted, while Suarez supposedly slipped away unharmed to get help.
Upon his return a short while later, Suarez found Shabazz’s badly damaged body lying in the street in Plaza Girabaldi, a busy tourist spot. A blunt object was used, causing fatal skull, jaw and rib fractures. Two other bar employees also participated in the beating, reports read.
Authorities suggest the bill was excessive and was probably used as an excuse to rob Shabazz and his companion. Police said they interviewed Suarez, who could not be reached for comment.
Two days after the attack, the security cameras on the premises were turned toward the walls and the video recording equipment was mysteriously missing.
Shortly after Shabazz’s murder, protesters demanded that authorities escalate their efforts in investigating his death. Some demonstrated at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Shabazz was murdered a little more than two months after he was allegedly arrested by the FBI and harassed by law enforcement in an upstate New York town. In February 2013, Iranian state-controlled Press TV erroneously reported that the FBI had arrested Shabazz while he was en route to Iran. The story was widely reported, but two days later, Shabazz’s family announced that the report was false, and although he had been arrested, it had nothing to do with the FBI or Iran.
During a Feb. 24 interview on “Democracy Now,” Shabazz’s aunt, Ilyashah Shabazz, said that he had gone to Mexico “invited under the premise that the African-Mexicans were being discriminated and treated unfairly and that they needed him to talk to them. And so, he went thinking that he was going to speak to these people, and they ended up killing him.”
Rios Garza said he saw no evidence that Shabazz’s attackers knew his background, adding that he found no evidence that race or any motive other than robbery was in play.
In February, Perez de Jesus was sentenced to 27 years and six months. It’s not clear whether Cruz was charged.
Dr. Wilner Metelus, president of the Committee on Citizens of the Defense of the Naturalized and AfroMexicans, does not consider the sentencing “a victory” because, allegedly, five people participated in the murder. “It is a step, nothing more,” he said.
Zayid Muhammad, press officer for the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, stated, “There are some real serious questions about what happened to him, and who he was with that still need to be answered.”
Shabazz is the son of Qubilah Shabazz, Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz’s second daughter. He is survived by his mother, two daughters and five aunts. He was buried in Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, N.Y., near the graves of his grandparents.