Shanquella Robinson’s family is closer to justice after Mexico filed charges against a suspect in her mysterious death.
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Robinson died shortly after arriving in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, on a group trip with friends. NBC News reports that local authorities obtained an arrest warrant for an American woman.
According to local prosecutor Antonio López Rodríguez, his office considers the case a potential homicide. Officials are in the process of extraditing the suspect to Mexico. Shanquella’s parents accused her friends of setting her up and ultimately killed her. Many believe one of those friends is the unnamed suspect, who could face up to 60 years in prison.
Shanquella’s friends told her family that she had gotten sick from alcohol poisoning. An autopsy revealed that the 25-year-old died from a broken neck and cracked spine consistent with a brutal assault. Weeks later, a viral video showed a woman beating a nude Shanquella while other people cheered and recorded. With vicious friends like this, who needs enemies?
A police report states she was still alive when first responders arrived. The account describes Shanquella clinging to life and suffering a seizure while medical personnel attempted to revive her. Despite “14 rounds of CPR, five doses of adrenaline, and six discharges (AED shocks),” paramedics pronounced Shanquella dead at the scene.
The FBI is investigating this incident after demand sparked by the heartbreaking viral video. Authorities initially dismissed the possibility that Shanquella’s death was a homicide. Shanquella’s mother, Salamondra Robinson, thanked Black websites and social media users for shining an international spotlight on the case.
“It feels really good to see the help coming in,” Salamondra told NBC News. “I never thought she wouldn’t get justice because we were going to try to go all the way. I appreciate everything that everybody’s done, however you’ve played a part in it.”
The video, which may be the last time Shanquella was seen alive, went viral on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter. Blogger Amina Kane saw her story on the local news and made the first viral post about her. Her message got more than 17,000 retweets before spreading to other platforms.
“I never expected it to go viral, I never do anything with the intention of going viral. I was emotionally invested in the story. My initial thought was, ‘It’s unfortunate that something traumatic like this has to go viral. But I’m happy this is going viral because now people are going to talk about it and things are going to happen.’ There’s power in numbers,” Kane said. “Black social media is extremely powerful.”
Once again, other Black people were the only hope for a Black person getting justice. Global attention also helped the grieving family raise over $300,000 for unexpected funeral and legal expenses, including $65,000 from Kyrie Irving.
“Social media has been around and has been used as an amplification and social justice tool for almost a decade. Black folks know that mainstream news media has a history of completely ignoring our stories. So we’ve been using these tools to amplify our stories ourselves” said race, media, and communications professor Sherri Williams of American University.
“And it works! We see this cycle of mainstream news media basically following the chatter on Black social media,” she continued.
On Nov. 19, hundreds of people said goodbye at Shanquella’s funeral in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Robinson family still has a long fight ahead of them. Hopefully, the investigation’s progress will bring them peace through this difficult holiday season.