It has been four months since Shanquella Robinson, a North Carolina business owner, died on a weekend trip with friends in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Questions still linger on exactly what happened and why haven’t any of the friends who accompanied Shanquella on the trip been publicly named as suspects in her death.
Mexican authorities have issued an arrest warrant for one of the people on the trip for femicide — the death of a woman based on her gender. However, an attorney representing her family, Sue-Ann Robinson, told Atlanta Black Star the U.S. government has stonewalled them.
What Is the Latest Update In Shanquella Robinson Case?
Robinson said the family has been met with a lack of transparency from American authorities in a case already complicated by geopolitics.
“The family was kind of stuck in like this ping pong,” the attorney told Atlanta Black Star during a phone interview on Tuesday. “US authorities are saying you need to go to Mexico, Mexican authorities, prior to us actually, physically being on the ground in Mexico we’re advising that the family needed to go to US authorities.”
Video footage leaked from the Mexican villa Shanquella shared with six friends in late October showed she was a victim of a brutal assault. Shortly after her death, the group returned to the U.S., leaving her body behind.
When Will the Suspect be Extradited?
The U.S. and Mexico signed an extradition treaty in 1978 that calls for the return of people who commit crimes and flee to either country. Mexico must wait on the U.S. to approve the extradition.
“US turning over US citizens that commit crimes in Mexico is a little more complicated, but it there’s precedent for it, it’s not unheard of,” Robinson said.
Robinson said Shanquella’s family has not been able to get any information from U.S. authorities or the U.S. consulate in Mexico. In late November, the FBI’s Charlotte office confirmed that it would open an investigation into the case. Still, the family has not even been able to get a timeline even though Mexican authorities say they have completed the investigation and submitted an extradition request.
Can the Biden Administration Help with Diplomatic Intervention?
Shanquella’s family, their attorney and civil rights activists will travel to Washington, D.C, to call on President Joe Biden and federal officials for diplomatic intervention into her murder case on Friday.
“There has to be a high level of diplomatic and intervention, and it has to really be the highest level possible,” the attorney said. “I use Brittney Griner as a recent example because that’s really an easy example of something where people see what high-level diplomatic intervention is needed when you have two different governments, two different criminal justice systems.”
Robinson believes Shanquella’s race plays a role in the lack of diplomatic intervention in her case.
“We just don’t get that in our cases unless we’re marching, we’re rallying,” said Robinson adding that social media has also played a pivotal role in creating momentum.
“A lot of people attribute that to missing white woman syndrome. The media is just more enamored when the victim of a crime is a white female as opposed to a Black female.”
Shanquella, the owner of a hair braiding business and online fashion boutique, often traveled with her friends, according to her social media pages. She appeared fun-loving and vibrant in the vacation posts and was popular on Instagram.
She reportedly traveled to Cabo on Oct. 28 to celebrate Jackson’s birthday. The travel mates met at Shanquella’s alma mater Winston-Salem State University, her mother said.
The timeline of the events that led to the woman’s death is still murky months later. However, the travel companions returned to Charlotte with Shanquella’s luggage after telling her parents she died from alcohol poisoning. Her death certificate later revealed that she died from a broken neck and cracked spinal cord.
The woman’s parents went to the media to raise the alarm.
Social media users latched onto the story after the video went viral, further contradicting Shanquella’s friends’ account that she died after binging on alcohol.
Although the resulting #JusticeforShanquella spurred more media attention and an investigation into her death, the attorney said some of the viral responses have been harmful to the family and the case.
“It makes it difficult for the family to grieve, fight for justice, and also constantly be battling misinformation,” Robinson said, but still adamant that there is a benefit to social media involvement.
She hopes more public pressure in the nation’s capital would at least garner the family an update on the investigation. Women’s rights activist Tamika Mallory, the local NAACP president and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump will also accompany the family as they demand answers.
“They’re not asking for anyone to spill the beans and destroy the investigation or asking to do a ride along when the people are picking up and taking,” Robinson said. “They’re simply saying, is the protocol that is delineated for extradition, is it being followed? Where are you guys in that process?”