Leaders Back Police on in Death Determined to Be Suicide

Huntington religious leaders joined with law-enforcement officials Wednesday to allay concerns about the death of a man  that has preliminarily determined to be a suicide.

Monday morning, a jogger spotted the man hanging from a tree in the woods adjacent to Peter A. Nelson Park on Oakwood Road in Huntington.

Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart cited several factors that she said led to the suicide finding, including a note the man left at his home, outlining the reasons for his decision, that a witness saw him riding a bicycle alone to Peter A. Nelson Park and other evidence found at the scene.

While she would not confirm the man’s race, she acknowledged that the department, which first announced Monday the case was believed to be a suicide, was working to reduce rumors, partly in response to the racial tensions resulting from the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

“While our department has a policy that we do not comment on suicides, we feel that it is important to calm community leaders and the community themselves with accurate information,” she said.  The man’s family accepted the suicide finding, she said. They have requested privacy and declined to say anything further.

The death of the man, who was not named by police adhering to a policy of not naming suicide victims, stirred much speculation on social media who  found the hanging death of yet another Black man to be suspicious. Around the country, six other Black men have been found dead by hanging in recent weeks.

The Rev. Larry Jennings, pastor of Bethel AME Church in Huntington, said religious leaders stepped forward after they became convinced that the police account was accurate. He said he and others had received calls from congregants and others worried about how the man had died.

Second Precinct commander Inspector William Scrima and Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci also attended the press conference, held at the stationhouse.

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