SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The family of Ryan Calhoun, the man found hanging from a tree near the Sacramento River on April 22nd, confirmed the 36-year-old’s identity and race on Wednesday, April 28, following conflicting reports. The death, which occurred in the 200 block of Jibboom Street, sparked skepticism of law enforcement and divided the community.
Calhoun’s death brought wide-ranging speculation and triggered fierce debate between law enforcement and members of the public. Activists were skeptical of the county coroner and Sacramento Police Department’s account of events, initially believing the incident to be a racially charged killing.
Calhoun’s family asks members of the public to give the family privacy and respect as they grieve the loss of their loved one.
“I ask for everyone to let my family grieve in peace,” the mother of Calhoun’s children said.
An online obituary for Calhoun said he previously worked as a flooring installer, played youth hockey, and served as an altar boy for St. Matthews Episcopal Church in his childhood.
Calhoun had previously been assumed to have been Black due to discoloration of his body. Some members of the public suggested a police cover-up, while the Sacramento Homeless Union’s legal counsel investigated the incident following conflicting reports of his race.
In the evening hours of Wednesday, April 28, the Sacramento Homeless Union’s legal counsel completed their investigation. The group issued a statement in support of Calhoun’s family, asking members of the public to delete graphic photos of Calhoun’s hanging.
“We take the deaths of our unhoused community very seriously and will continue to investigate on our own as we know their deaths are often dismissed,” Crystal Sanchez wrote. “We truly feel and understand the struggles of having a loved one on the streets and the constant fear that the families must endure. May this gentleman rest in peace and may his family find answers they are looking for and peace as well.”