Attorneys react to discrepancies in Shanquella Robinson’s autopsies

“We hope that there is still a chance at justice in Mexico. Mexican prosecutors have issued arrest warrants in this case and are willing to pursue charges.”
The autopsy report contradicts an earlier death certificate, which said Robinson died due to spinal cord injury.
Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 5:27 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Following the announcement that the FBI and federal prosecutors will not file criminal charges in the death of Shanquella Robinson, attorneys Ben Crump and Sue-Ann Robinson issued a statement in response, calling into question the latest autopsy report.

Robinson, 25, died on October 29, 2022, while on a trip with friends to Cabo, Mexico.

According to Mexican prosecutors, one of Robinson’s friends was the direct aggressor of her death. Initially, friends of Robinson claimed that her cause of death was alcohol poisoning, but an autopsy from Mexican authorities in the days following her death revealed that it was “severe spinal cord injury and atlas luxation.”


On Wednesday WBTV received an autopsy report conducted in Mecklenburg County that conflicts with a previous report conducted in Mexico.

In early November a video showing an alleged fight went viral on social media. Robinson’s parents told WBTV an autopsy report showed she died of a cracked spine --- but the autopsy report from Mecklenburg County differs.

“There are U.S. and Mexican autopsy reports which show a difference in findings. These discrepancies can be credited to the delay in investigation by U.S. officials, who conducted a second autopsy once Shanquella’s body was embalmed. When an investigation is delayed, the hard evidence to support prosecution diminishes, but in this case, that is due to the U.S. not considering this case to be a high priority,” according to a press release from attorneys Crump and Robinson.

On Wednesday evening Mecklenburg County issued a statement regarding the autopsy performed by Dr. Thomas Owens, Mecklenburg County Chief Medical Examiner calling the initial examination ‘limited.’

“A partial postmortem examination was performed in Mexico on October 30, 2022, and her body was returned to the United States. Based on the limited examination performed in Mexico, her cause of death was attributed to ‘severe spinal cord injury with atlas luxation,” according to the statement.

The autopsy performed in Mecklenburg Couty took place about two weeks after the Mexican examination.

“The Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office was contacted on November 16, 2022, to perform a complete autopsy examination to verify/ascertain the cause of her death. A complete postmortem examination of Ms. Robinson was performed on November 17, 2022. During this examination, the brain and spinal cord were further examined by a neuropathologist and there was no evidence of any spinal cord injury or atlas subluxation,” according to the statement.

Those findings are what led United States Attorney Dena King and the FBI to say there was not enough evidence of wrongdoing to issue criminal charges in this case.

Previous Coverage: Months later, the push for answers around Shanquella Robinson’s death continues

“Based on the results of the autopsy and after a careful deliberation and review of the investigative materials by both U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, federal prosecutors informed Ms. Robinson’s family today that the available evidence does not support a federal prosecution.”

The news that the U.S. wouldn’t seek charges in the death investigation, Crump and Robinson said there is still a chance that someone is held accountable for her death.

“While it is discouraging for the loved ones of Shanquella that their own Department of Justice will not be pursuing charges against Shanquella’s aggressor, it is our stance that justice is still possible for her death. We hope that there is still a chance at justice in Mexico. Mexican prosecutors have issued arrest warrants in this case and are willing to pursue charges. We strongly encourage The United States to move forward with the extradition of those responsible for her death to Mexico to face accountability there,” the attorneys said.

Bernice King, a lawyer and daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., took to Twitter to offer her support for the family.

“My heart goes out to Shanquella Robinson’s family…to all who knew and loved her before her name became a hashtag,” her post read.

Previously the Mexican government issued an arrest warrant for a “direct aggressor” on the trip, but no one has been arrested. Mexican authorities claimed they’re working with U.S. officials to extradite the individual.

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