TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The family of a mother and toddler who died in a fall at San Diego’s Petco Park last September are questioning the ruling they died by murder-suicide, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Raquel Wilkins, 40, and her 2-year-old son Denzel Browning-Wilkins fell the equivalent of six stories to their deaths last September as thousands of fans were heading inside the ballpark.
Police initially classified their deaths as “suspicious,” then released the findings of their investigation on Wednesday.
“Raquel Wilkins’ death has been classified a suicide and Denzel Browning-Wilkins’ death has been classified a homicide,” San Diego Police Lt. Andra Brown said in a news release, according to the newspaper.
Brown said detectives came to the conclusion following a “thorough and comprehensive investigation that included dozens of interviews, reviewing of available video footage, and collecting background information to determine what led to the deaths.”
Dan Gilleon, the attorney representing Wilkins’ family told the Union-Tribune that police “refused to provide us an ounce of information” and “flat out refused to explain” how they came to the conclusion.
Brown told the newspaper homicide investigators “do not typically (release) information to the suspect’s family.”
Gilleon believes police are trying to protect the city, which owns 70 percent of the ballpark, from legal liability.
“The City of San Diego owns that ballpark, it is legally responsible, assuming that what caused her to fall was anything but her intent,” Gilleon said Wednesday. “The only way the city is not at fault is if she intended to kill herself and her baby.”
Police reported Wilkins and her son were eating in a dining area on the third-floor concourse level before they fell. Denzel’s father was also at the ballpark at the time, according to police.
A witness who said she gave a statement to police on the day of their deaths provided the newspaper with another statement through her daughter.
She said she saw Wilkins holding her son while jumping on the bench of a table closest to the railing.
“She seemed happy — laughing,” the witness recalled.
The witness said Wilkins lost her balance and they nearly fell over. She was surprised to see them standing on the bench again.
“She again lost her balance and this time, fell over the edge,” the witness said. “From my vantage point, looking at her back, it was almost like she rolled over the railing.”
Gilleon said it was “extraordinarily dangerous and stupid” that the picnic tables were that close to the railing.
“Like any other property owner, (the city was) required to keep people on (its) property safe,” he said.
According to a family attorney, Wilkins was from Tampa. She attended the University of South Florida and was a teacher at Durant High School before moving to California.