Governor Charlie Baker said in a Thursday radio appearance that he would support an independent investigation into the death of Mikayla Miller, the Black 16-year-old who died last month in Hopkinton and whose family has called for a separate federal probe.
“I would support whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this and to give a grieving family confidence that their daughter’s life has been treated with the grace and the kindness and the respect that it deserves,” Baker told hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio. “If [an independent investigation is] where people think we need to go, then yeah, I would support that.”
Miller’s death was ruled a suicide Tuesday by the state medical examiner, whose leader was appointed by the Baker administration. A jogger discovered the teenager early on the morning of April 18 in the woods about a mile from Miller’s home, according to an affidavit filed by a Hopkinton police detective. A death certificate says Miller died by hanging herself.
Her death has sparked outrage and skepticism over authorities’ ability to adequately investigate it, particularly after Hopkinton Police and Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan declined to provide information to the public for about two weeks after Miller died.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump said Wednesday that he is now representing the family.
Baker said he has a “lot of respect” for Ryan, but suggested that the only entity under state law that could pursue a separate probe “or take an investigation” from her office is Attorney General Maura Healey.
Braude asked Baker if he believes Healey — widely viewed as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2022, when Baker would be up for reelection — should take over the investigation, but the second-term Republican didn’t directly answer.
In a statement Thursday, Healey said Miller’s family and the community “deserve answers” while also voicing support for Ryan’s ability to handle the investigation.
“DA Ryan and her team are experienced prosecutors who have an active investigation and we need to let that proceed,” Healey said. “My office will continue to closely monitor this case as it moves forward.”
Miller’s family has called for an independent investigation led by the FBI. They had also called for an independent autopsy.
At a news conference Wednesday, Monica Cannon-Grant, the founder of Violence in Boston, said her organization had paid for an independent autopsy, which was completed before Miller’s body was cremated on May 13. Calvina Strothers, Miller’s mother, and Crump declined to provide the results of that autopsy on Wednesday.
Crump called the death “highly suspicious” on Wednesday and Strothers said she did not believe her daughter died by suicide.
Asked if Healey should be involved with the probe, Cannon-Grant on Wednesday questioned whether Healey’s office could provide an independent look at the case.
“I would rather the FBI take this case only because it’s kind of hard to avoid political relationships in the state of Massachusetts, given the power and position that DA Marian Ryan holds in this state,” Cannon-Grant said. “I would rather it be someone who can be objective in this case. That’s just my personal feeling, just given what I know about Boston politics.”
In particular, Strothers has said she wanted police to investigate a physical altercation that Miller had been involved in the day before she died. Miller had a falling out with her girlfriend, Strothers said, and on the Saturday before she died she was attacked by five teenagers related to that dispute. Ryan has said Miller was involved in an altercation with two teenagers, and three others were also present.
Miller’s family and supporters felt that the district attorney was not sufficiently investigating the connection between the fight on Saturday and the teen’s death on Sunday.
Before Wednesday’s press conference, the Hopkinton police department released a batch of records that it had refused to make public previously. But the police have still not made public the incident report from the altercation, citing a domestic violence law that prohibits the release of records related to “abuse arising in a substantive dating relationship.”
A spokeswoman for Ryan said on Tuesday the investigation into the events surrounding Miller’s death is “active and ongoing.”
Emma Platoff and Zoe Greenberg of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Matt Stout can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.