POLITICS

Justice Department Drops Investigation Of Black Man's Hanging In Mississippi

WASHINGTON - MARCH 09:  The seal of the F.B.I. hangs in the Flag Room at the bureau's headquaters March 9, 2007 in Washington
WASHINGTON - MARCH 09: The seal of the F.B.I. hangs in the Flag Room at the bureau's headquaters March 9, 2007 in Washington, DC. F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller was responding to a report by the Justice Department inspector general that concluded the FBI had committed 22 violations in its collection of information through the use of national security letters. The letters, which the audit numbered at 47,000 in 2005, allow the agency to collect information like telephone, banking and e-mail records without a judicially approved subpoena. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

May 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said on Friday it was closing its investigation into the death of a black man found hanging from a tree in Mississippi in March after finding no evidence to prove it was a homicide.

Federal investigators joined the probe into the circumstances of Otis James Byrd's death after the 54-year-old man went missing for more than two weeks before being found in a wooded area about half a mile (0.8 km) from his home in a rural part of western Mississippi.

The Mississippi chapter of the NAACP had called for a federal investigation into Byrd's death amid fears it may have been a racially motivated hate crime.

But the Justice Department said it would not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges.

"After a careful and thorough review, a team of experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents determined that there was no evidence to prove that Byrd's death was a homicide," the department said in a statement. (Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Will Dunham)

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