MORRIS COUNTY — On Sunday, June 28, 2020, a 20-year-old black man was found dead as a result of hanging in Lewis Morris Park in Morristown. He was later identified as Amani Kildea, a resident of Washington Township. Less than 72 hours after finding the hanging body, the Morris County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Amani’s death a suicide without further investigation of the circumstances.
Morris County Prosecutor Frederick Knapp has failed to disclose important details about the manner of Amani’s death. Instead, Prosecutor Knapp has stated that there is “no cause to believe there is any criminality involved” in Amani’s death by hanging. Prosecutor Knapp’s statement is both premature and unsubstantiated. It is not possible to completely investigate all of the facts (known and unknown) surrounding the death of Amani Kildea in less than 72 hours.
Amani Kildea’s family adopted him in 2005 from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. From the age of 5, he resided in Washington Township. He graduated from the Army Reserves Basic Training in February 2020 and was to become a Military Policeman. He planned to further his education at James Madison University in the fall of 2020. Amani will be remembered as a “beautiful young man” with a sensitive soul, an endearing sense of humor, and a daring and courageous character.
Amani planned to finish his education and work in special operations for the FBI or CIA. Despite being only 20-years-old, he did not wait to pursue his dream of serving the community and began setting up sting operations to find and expose pedophiles in New Jersey with his friends, akin to the show “To Catch A Predator.” Through this work, they have exposed at least 30 pedophiles in Morris County and other surrounding areas. This work has led to multiple arrests, including arrests of the Mayor of Netcong’s son and a police officer that was actively serving on a police force, which may demonstrate significant evidence of individuals with a motive to harm him. Amani’s work in the community to expose sexual predators was brave, but dangerous, leaving him vulnerable to retaliation from those criminals. Despite Prosecutor Knapp’s assertion that there is “no cause to believe there is any criminality involved” in his death by hanging, Amani’s work in the community sheds light on a possible motive to kill and silence him.
We have been forced to conclude that this investigation was insufficient given Prosecutor Knapp’s failure to provide the Morris County community with the pertinent details of Amani’s death. Without these details, our community will not be able to heal nor can we be reassured that Amani’s family has received justice and the due process that they are guaranteed under the laws of New Jersey and this Country.
We have questions regarding the death of Amani Kildea.
Were all 30 of the previously exposed pedophiles questioned, and were their alibis vetted before ruling this matter a suicide?
Was Amani in the process of outing yet another pedophile before his death?
What was Amani’s connection to the Greater Morristown Area?
What was Amani hanging on? What was Amani hanging from? Was the hanging object tied like a noose?
Was there a suicide note left anywhere? Has one been subsequently found?
Does Amani have a history of mental health issues?
What was Amani’s life at home like?
Did Amani have a car? If not, how did he get to Lewis Morris Park?
Was Amani’s cell phone pinged? If so, for how long was it pinged prior to him being found at the location of his death? Prior to that, where did he go?
Were Amani’s cell phone records examined?
Did Amani’s friends know anything about his plans or whereabouts on Sunday, June 28, 2020?
We demand answers to these questions. It is possible that Amani’s death was caused by suicide, however, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office has failed to provide the community with transparency and a fair investigation as it relates to the hanging of Amani Kildea. As a result, Black Lives Matter Morristown has zero faith in the declaration of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and seeks the truth. It appears there was a clear and unsubstantiated rush to deem this hanging a suicide rather than conduct a thorough investigation as to the possible lynching of a Black man in Morristown in 2020 – yet another in a series of unexplained hangings that have occurred in recent weeks.
Black bodies are being lynched all across the United States of America, in public places. All of these deaths have swiftly been ruled a suicide, without corroborating evidence. It is obvious that there is, and continues to be, a rush to judgment without thoroughly investigating all of the facts when it pertains to the death of Black people. Amani Kildea’s death will not be in vain and we will fight for a thorough investigation surrounding his death in our beloved community.
We join our community and Amani Kildea’s family and friends in mourning his tragic death. We mourn the lives of our recently fallen loved ones. We mourn the lives of all of those who have been taken from us by agents of racism, hate, and destruction. We fight for our communities that have too long been systematically oppressed, overlooked, under-resourced, and terrorized. The Black community, and the Morristown community at large, require diligence, fairness, and commitment from its public servants in order to feel safe. Likewise, to maintain legitimate authority, public servants must fulfill their mandate and serve all communities equally when carrying out their duties. It is in this spirit that Black Lives Matter Morristown does not accept this investigation as concluded and demands a full investigation into the suspected lynching of Amani Kildea, an independent autopsy report, and we will settle for nothing less than a full accounting of this matter.