Feds Won’t File Charges in Mysterious Death of Shanquella Robinson on Mexico Vacation
Ever since 25-year-old Shanquella Robinson died in unexplained circumstances on a group vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in October, her family has demanded a thorough investigation as to what happened. But on Wednesday, U.S. federal authorities told them that they don’t have the evidence to pursue criminal charges in the case.
Robinson, a hair stylist from North Carolina and graduate of Winston-Salem State University, died of “severe spinal cord injury and atlas luxation,” according to her official death certificate. Initially, Mexican law enforcement and the six friends with Robinson on the trip led her family to believe that alcohol poisoning had been the cause of her death.
“When the autopsy came back, they said it didn’t have anything to do with the alcohol,” said Robinson’s mother, Salamondra Robinson, in November. “[They] said that she had a broken neck and her spine in the back was cracked. She had been beaten.” The emergence of a video in which another woman appears to repeatedly punch Robinson in a hotel room further added to suspicion that she had suffered her fatal injuries from an assault.
But the FBI — sharply criticized by Robinson’s mother over the past few months for a lack of progress in the case — was ultimately unable to produce the evidence needed for an arrest, prosecutors told the family this week. The news comes after a sustained social media campaign pressuring American authorities to identify and charge someone in the matter.
“The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Ms. Robinson has been a priority for federal prosecutors and the FBI,” read a Wednesday press release from the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Middle and Western Districts of North Carolina. “Based on the results of the autopsy and after a careful deliberation and review of the investigative materials by both U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, federal prosecutors informed Ms. Robinson’s family today that the available evidence does not support a federal prosecution.”
“As a matter of policy, federal officials generally do not issue public statements concerning the status of an investigation,” the statement continues. Authorities made an exception due to “the circumstances of Ms. Robinson’s death and the public concern surrounding this investigation,” and remain “prepared to review and examine new information related to the investigation should it become available.”
Mexican authorities have reportedly issued an arrest warrant for one of Robinson’s traveling companions, on a charge of femicide, and have requested to extradite her. It’s unclear whether the FBI’s findings and withholding of charges will affect that process.
The attorney representing Robinson’s family, Sue-Ann Robinson, said in a press conference on Wednesday that they were “disappointed” but “not deterred” by this latest setback. The family has plans to hold a rally and march in Washington D.C. on May 19 — the 200th day since her death — to advocate for further action on the government’s part.