Shanquella Robinson investigation: When could it end? Where does it stand?

On the day Shanquella Robinson would have been celebrating her 26th birthday, her family and friends are continuing their push for justice.
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 7:54 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - On the day Shanquella Robinson would have been celebrating her 26th birthday, her family and friends are continuing their push for justice.

That included a balloon release Sunday afternoon at Beatties Ford Memorial Gardens in Charlotte.

“They can’t silence her. They can’t silence us. You know, justice will be served,” friend Bobby Collins said during the balloon release.

In the search to find out what happened to Robinson in Cabo, Mexico, there are two investigations: one by Mexican authorities and an independent investigation by the FBI.

Related: FBI now investigating Charlotte woman’s death in Mexico

“This is a little surprising with that video that nobody has broken,” said Chris Swecker, former FBI assistant director. “If you will, they haven’t really rolled somebody over to put it in law enforcement parlance.”

Swecker was referring to a viral social media that appeared to show a fight between another woman and Robinson.

On the day Shanquella Robinson would have been celebrating her 26th birthday, her family and friends are continuing their push for justice.

Since Robinson’s death on Oct. 29, the world has demanded someone be held accountable. As her name continues to trend on social media, many have asked how long does an FBI investigation take?

We asked former FBI assistant director Swecker for an answer.

“If this had, happened in the US, first of all, the FBI wouldn’t be working it because it would be a local homicide. But, you know, typically a homicide investigation like this would go fairly quickly when you have video like this and witnesses that are available to be interrogated or interviewed. You know, other forensic evidence, maybe video or maybe time logs, that sort of thing. Cell phone pinging which you see in the Idaho case, you know, all that evidence is available. In extraterritorial cases particularly involving the Mexican government, which is really hit or miss when you deal with the prosecutors and the federal police down there and the judicial police down there. They’re hit or miss in terms of their competence, number one, number two, and their motivation to actually get moving on the case. So we have to get the evidence in our hands before we can actually introduce the evidence into US courts. That’s all done by treaty and that’s ribbons and bows and formal papers requests that go back and forth, back and forth. It’s a painstaking, laborious, bureaucratic process and in Mexico, it’s even more so,” he said.

Swecker says a complete investigation could take months.

Related: Charlotte family pushing for answers after daughter found dead in Mexico

“You got the video, obviously, you can obtain stored text data, stored email data, people tend to be careless at the moment, and then they’ll text each other back and forth about what happened or after the fact, you know, sort of try to get their story together, that sort of thing. So I’m pretty sure the FBI is looking at the electronic evidence very closely. They’re interviewing people, I call it interviewing because if you’re not under arrest, it’s not an interrogation, if you will, it’s an interview. You don’t have the right to counsel, you can get up and leave anytime you want. So there, I’m sure they have already interviewed everybody if they haven’t lawyered up. So they’ve gathered as much of the evidence as they can I believe at this point that can be gathered in the United States,” Swecker said.

He also says for an investigation to be started by the FBI, attorney general guidelines are followed.

“You have to have what we call predication to open up a full investigation, which is reasonable facts that indicate that a crime has been committed. A federal crime has been committed. And that’s it. I mean...it’s not guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s not probable cause just reasonable indications, then a supervisor can approve the initial investigation,” he said.

As the FBI’s investigation nears the two-month mark, Swecker says it’s important to keep the pressure on the Mexican government.

“When you apply pressure, and you pressure the government and you almost embarrassed the government, then they get moving,” he said.

In late November, Mexican authorities did issue an arrest warrant for a “direct aggressor,” identified only as someone on the trip. In a press release, authorities said, investigations and test data indicate that Robinson’s death was due to a “direct attack, not from an accident.”

No arrests have been made.

WBTV first reported the story on Friday, Nov. 11.