SEATTLE – A newly released report details why a 16-year-old’s death that sparked an outcry on social media was ruled accidental after a review by Seattle homicide detectives.
Hamza Warsame became frantic in the immediate aftermath of smoking marijuana for the first time and fell to his death while likely attempting to jump from the balcony of one apartment to an adjacent building last December, according to a report from Det. Jim Cooper.
The report was released to Q13 News on Wednesday.
Warsame’s death led to a hashtag, #justiceforhamza, that trended worldwide after his family and members of the Muslim community postulated he was beaten and thrown from the balcony by white men driven by anti-Muslim sentiment.
Warsame, a Seattle Central College running-start student, was at an older classmate’s apartment on Dec. 5 working on a school project on homelessness when he died.
The classmate told police that Warsame saw marijuana in the apartment and said he wanted to try it for the first time, so they smoked a bowl. The classmate said he went to the kitchen to make some food when Warsame began acting “frantic” about how smoking marijuana would affect his standing as a Muslim, then went out to the balcony and jumped.
Police said the angle of the fall made it very unlikely that Warsame was pushed, and instead indicated that he leaped forward. They said the flat roof of an adjacent building, which is below the balcony, appears much closer than it actually is so it’s likely Warsame thought he could jump to it.
The medical examiner found that Warsame’s injuries were consistent with those from a fall, and that there was no bodily evidence of assault.
Police also talked to a downstairs neighbor who was home at the time of Warsame’s death. She said she can occasionally overhear loud conversations in the apartment, but that she heard no sign of a confrontation before she saw Warsame fall past her window.
Police found no sign of struggle in the apartment, but did find a plate of uneaten egg rolls.
“His death was a tragedy, but it was not a homicide,” the report concludes.