How did Shanquella Robinson die? Death certificate vs. police report breakdown.


UPDATE: An arrest warrant has been issued for a suspect in Shanquella Robinson’s death.

Previous story: The death certificate for Shanquella Robinson and internal police records from Cabo authorities significantly differ or conflict in several key ways.

Robinson, 25, was a Charlotte native who traveled to a resort villa in San José del Cabo, Mexico with six of her friends on Oct. 28. She died a day later.

What law enforcement officials call a “femicide” investigation is underway and the FBI has opened a parallel investigation. The State Attorney General’s Office of Baja California Sur announced it is investigating Robinson’s death as a “femicide.” Femicide is the murder of a woman at the hands of a man on account of her gender. It is broadly classified as a hate crime.

Uncertainty and questions — compounded by the complexity of Robinson’s death in a country far from home — have been at the center of the mystery and outcry for weeks.

The contradictions don’t stop at the official reports.

Sallamondra Robinson, Shanquella Robinson’s mother, told news outlets that each friend from the trip has a different story and they initially told her that her daughter had alcohol poisoning.

Shanquella Robinson death investigation

For several weeks, much of the news coverage of Robinson’s death relied on a death certificate issued by the Secretariat of Health on Nov. 4.

The autopsy preceding the issuance of a death certificate found Robinson died from severe injuries to her spine and neck, as The Charlotte Observer and numerous other outlets have reported. Her family members have said her body showed obvious signs of being beaten, and injuries lined up with video footage that surfaced soon after Robinson died showing someone beating a naked woman, who family has recognized as Robinson.

While a police account — heavily dependent on a doctor from the American Medical Center in Cabo — leaves out mention of obvious physical injuries, the newly surfaced details raise questions about why Robinson’s death certificate says she died within 15 minutes of being injured.

The police records show Robinson was alive when medical help arrived and a doctor from a local hospital was with Robinson and others in the house for close to three hours before she was pronounced dead.

The Charlotte Observer obtained excerpts from a police report earlier this week that had not yet been publicly released. The information was provided to the Observer by Gerardo Zuñiga, an investigative reporter who works in Los Cabos for MetropoliMx, and details were first reported by MetropoliMx on Monday.

Here’s a look at key differences from both sets of records.

What killed Shanquella Robinson?

The death certificate, resulting from an autopsy, lists the official cause of death as “severe spinal cord injury and atlas luxation.” In a box for information about whether the death was accidental or violent, the form simply says “yes.”

The police report doesn’t assign a cause of death but says the reason 911 was called was due to “deceased person (cardiopulmonary arrest).”

Neither record states unequivocally that Robinson was drunk or had alcohol poisoning. On the death certificate, there’s no box to check for information about alcohol or any other substance. In the police report, the doctor observes Robinson had “stable vital signs but (was) dehydrated, unable to communicate verbally and appearing to be inebriated.”

What happened in Cabo?

Video footage showing an attack where a woman believed to be Robinson is severely beaten inside a bedroom is part of the ongoing law enforcement investigation. The footage shows Robinson not fighting back and falling to the ground.

Cabo police records show Robinson received medical treatment for nearly three hours from doctors and paramedics before she was pronounced dead. In that time, she experienced a seizure. And, according to the police record excerpt, her friends refused to have her transported to a medical facility and told the doctor she drank too much alcohol and needed an IV.

The death certificate says she was found in a living room and doesn’t mention alcohol. The document doesn’t expand much about what happened leading up to her death but says she died within 15 minutes of the onset of fatal injuries. In a box that asks whether medical attention was provided before the death, the document says “unknown.”

Her family has said multiple friends gave conflicting accounts and once a doctor had been summoned to the villa, the friends called her mother claiming Robinson had alcohol poisoning. No official record yet released has shown authorities deemed alcohol to be the leading cause of Robinson’s death.

What was Shanquella Robinson’s time of death?

The death certificate says she died at 3 p.m. on Oct. 29.

Her mother has said in previous interviews that she was called after an ambulance had arrived at the villa and told Robinson was extremely ill but still alive. A police record indicates 911 had been called at 4:20 p.m.

The police report excerpt says the doctor discovered no pulse for Robinson at 4:49 p.m. Oct. 29 and after a long stretch of CPR, pronounced Robinson dead at 5:57 p.m.