by Venice Buhain
(This article was originally published on the Seattle Globalist and has been reprinted with permission)
Hamza Warsame, the 16-year-old Running Start student whose death in December raised an outcry in Seattle’s black and Muslim communities, died in an accidental fall and not as a result of a hate crime, according to a Seattle Police Department report obtained Tuesday by The Seattle Times via public records request.
Several demonstrations followed Warsame’s death, with many calls for increased scrutiny on the case after what some felt was the lack of attention by the Seattle Police Department and the media. Warsame, who was attending school at nearby Seattle Central College, died after a six-story fall from a classmate’s apartment on Summit Avenue East on Dec. 5.
Warsame’s family also told the Globalist they felt the police treated them with a lack of sensitivity after the teenager’s death.
Warsame’s death happened as organizations noted a growing awareness of hate crimes and intolerance against Muslims, locally and nationally. In the days after Warsame’s death, rumors spread on social media that the teenager had been beaten and killed in a hate crime, but his family and the police department had asked the public to end the speculation.
According to the Seattle Times, Warsame was at the apartment to work on a project when he asked his classmate, age 21, if he could try marijuana for the first time.
The classmate told investigators that after smoking, Warsame became “frantic” and told his classmate that he needed some air. He said Warsame then went onto the balcony and fell.
According to the Seattle Times, the classmate and the downstairs neighbor both called 9-1-1 after his fall.
The report was consistent with the King County Medical Examiner’s ruling earlier this year that Warsame’s death was accidental.
His family remembered Warsame as a studious young man with plenty of friends and ambitions to enter the video game industry, who aimed to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after graduating from Rainier Beach High School and the Seattle Central Running Start program.
Featured image by Jovelle Tamayo