The case of a black man found hanging from a tree in Piedmont Park has been referred to the FBI, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said.
Reed’s statement was issued Thursday afternoon, hours after social media users expressed outrage about the Atlanta Police Department’s contention the scene was consistent with a suicide. An autopsy has not been performed.
Piedmont Park became a trending topic on Twitter, where some users called the death “another modern-day lynching.”
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of a young man’s life last night in Piedmont Park,” Reed said. “This disturbing event demands our full attention. The Atlanta Police Department (APD) is conducting a robust investigation into his death and I have asked to receive regular briefings on the status of the investigation.”
Officers were called to the Charles Allen entrance of the park just before 5 a.m. Thursday and discovered a man’s body hanging from a tree by a rope, police spokesman Donald Hannah said.
Emergency officials arrived on the scene and pronounced the man dead, he said.
“There were no discernible signs of a struggle or foul play,” Hannah said. A “Fulton County medical examiner concurred that the death was consistent with a suicide.”
Twitter users, many of them on edge in the wake of two recent videotaped shooting deaths of black men at the hands of police officers, weren’t buying it.
Reed asked the public to be patient.
“Everything we have seen suggests that there was no foul play involved, but I want to state clearly and unequivocally that we will not prejudge the situation,” Reed said. “APD will share all evidence discovered in the course of the investigation. We ask for the public’s support and cooperation as we work to resolve this matter.”
The man’s name has not been released.