Mexico has issued an arrest warrant seeking the extradition of an American “friend” of a young Black woman who was allegedly killed last month within the first 24 hours of her vacation.
The arrest warrant says explicitly that Shanquella Robinson is the victim of “femicide,” defined by Merriam-Webster as “the gender-based murder of a woman or girl by a man.”
Mexican prosecutor Daniel de la Rosa Anaya provided the latest update to ABC News in an ongoing case that has increasingly made headlines after explicit video footage went viral on social earlier this month and purportedly showed Robinson, 25, being brutally beaten by a friend in one-sided violence while they were on vacation in San José del Cabo.
On Oct. 29, Robinson’s friends summoned medical aid to the Villa where they were staying and told a doctor she had “drunk a lot of alcohol.” She was pronounced dead hours later. According to a Mexican autopsy report, however, Robinson’s cause of death was “severe spinal cord injury and atlas luxation,” which effectively means her vertebrae were dislocated to lethal proportions.
After weeks of outcry from Robinson’s family and the story being amplified on social media, the FBI finally began its own investigation. Days after the FBI’s investigation was announced, the Mexican arrest warrant was announced.
De la Rosa Anaya dispelled the notion that Robinson was engaged in a fight and said she was the victim of “direct aggression” by the friend, who Mexico is seeking to extradite to answer for the alleged crime.
“This case is fully clarified, we even have a court order, there is an arrest warrant issued for the crime of femicide to the detriment of the victim and against an alleged perpetrator, a friend of her who is the direct aggressor,” de la Rosa Anaya said in a statement. “Actually it wasn’t a quarrel, but instead a direct aggression. We are carrying out all the pertinent procedures such as the Interpol alert and the request for extradition to the United States of America. It’s about two Americans, the victim and the culprit.”
Robinson’s mother expressed relief when ABC News told her about Mexico issuing the arrest warrant.
“I feel so good, that’s a good feeling,” Salamondra Robinson said. “That’s what we have been waiting for, for someone to finally be held accountable and arrested. I just can’t wait for justice to be served.”
What happened to Shanquella Robinson?
Robinson and as many as six of her friends arrived at Cabo on Oct. 28. The next day, she was allegedly shown on video footage being beaten up by another young woman. It appeared that at least two people were filming the violence – the person who recorded the video posted on social media and another person whose phone could also be seen recording the footage. During the violence, a man’s voice could be heard imploring “Quella” — the woman identified as Robinson — to “at least fight back.”
While Robinson’s friends blamed her death on alcohol poisoning, an autopsy performed by Mexican authorities determined that she did not have alcohol in her system.
A Mexican police report claims that a doctor from a local hospital was with Robinson and other people staying at the villa for almost three hours before she was pronounced dead on Oct. 29.
In the report, authorities say at 2:13 p.m. on Oct. 29. An hour later Dr. Gutiérrez from the American Medical Center, a local hospital in the area, arrived to assist Robinson. Gutiérrez was then told by others at the house that Robinson had “drunk a lot of alcohol.” He then decided to give Robinson an IV.
The report goes on to say that Gutiérrez found “a female” — understood in the report to be Robinson — with stable vital signs but dehydrated, unable to communicate verbally, and appearing to be inebriated.
Gutiérrez then told the other housemates he believed Robinson needed to be transferred to a hospital, but her friends insisted that she be treated at the Villa. Dr. Gutiérrez then tried to give Robinson an IV but was unsuccessful.
According to the police report, an hour into Gutiérrez’s house visit Robinson began to have a seizure. 911 was called shortly after by one of the housemates. By this point, Shanquella Robinson was struggling to survive. She was suffering from difficulty breathing and a lowered pulse. At 4:49 p.m. Gutierrez detected Robinson had stopped having a pulse. They quickly began giving her CPR.
The report says police arrived at 5:25 p.m. and paramedics “administered a total of 14 rounds of CPR, five doses of adrenaline, and six discharges (AED shocks) without success.”
Shanquella Robinson was pronounced dead at 5:57 p.m., according to the report.
It’s worth mentioning that none of Robinson’s physical injuries were mentioned in the report.
Who is the “friend” Mexico’s arrest warrant seeks?
Robinson’s mother said one of the friends called and said her daughter was not feeling well and died from alcohol poisoning. “Each one of the people that was there with her was telling different stories,” Salamondra Robinson told Queen City News. The friends returned back to their homes in North Carolina without Robinson, whose body was finally recovered by her family nearly two weeks later.
While Robinson’s friends have not been officially identified, social media sleuths took it upon themselves to post names and photos of people alleged to have been in Mexico with her at the time of the death. Social media posts called for the friends to be arrested and charged for their alleged roles in Robinson’s death.
A video on social media claims to show a man who said he traveled to Cabo separately one day after Robinson and the others had arrived. The unidentified man said on the video that he was told Robinson was suffering from alcohol poisoning and claimed he didn’t know there was even a fight.
Black social media may have made the difference
Black Twitter, in particular, has been diligent in identifying and keeping the pressure up on all of Robinson’s friends who accompanied her on the trip to Cabo.
“Social media has been around and has been used as an amplification and social justice tool for almost a decade,” Sherri Williams, a professor of race, media, and communication at American University told NBC News. “Black folks know that mainstream news media has a history of completely ignoring our stories. So we’ve been using these tools to amplify our stories ourselves. And it works! We see this cycle of mainstream news media basically following the chatter on Black social media.”
“Shanquella Robinson’s story teaches us that Black people still recognize the power of Black digital activism,” Williams continued. “But mainstream media still has a way to go in terms of, not only diversifying its news force but also in terms of paying attention to what is happening in communities that are not white.”
Robinson’s mother said that while she never would have given up on seeking justice for her daughter whether Shanquella’s story went viral or not, she greatly appreciates the scores of social media users who have gotten involved.
“It feels really good to see the help coming in,” Salamondra said, explaining to NBC that she doesn’t believe her daughter’s death would have gotten so much attention from law enforcement or mainstream media outlets if it weren’t for Black folks on social media.
“I never thought she wouldn’t get justice because we were going to try to go all the way,” she added. “But I appreciate everything that everybody’s done, however you’ve played a part in it.”