On January 11, 2013, Kendrick Johnson’s body was discovered inside a rolled up wrestling mat in the gymnasium of Lowndes High School in Valdosta, in the U.S. state of Georgia, where he was a student. A preliminary investigation and autopsy concluded that the death was accidental. Johnson’s family had a private pathologist conduct a second autopsy which concluded that Johnson died from blunt force trauma. On October 31, 2013, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia announced that his office would open a formal review into Johnson’s death. On June 20, 2016, the US DOJ announced that it would not be filing any criminal charges related to Johnson’s death.
Kendrick Johnson’s family filed a $100 million civil lawsuit against 38 individuals. The lawsuit alleged that Johnson’s death was a murder and accused the respondents of a conspiracy to cover up the homicide. Johnson was found headfirst in the center of a rolled up wrestling mat, in his high school gym, on January 10, 2013. His body was discovered by students who had climbed up to the top of a cluster of mats, each of which stood nearly six feet tall and three feet wide. Johnson’s family filed a legal action to open a coroner’s inquiry into his death. When the judge in that case delayed a decision, pending the outcome of the U.S. District Attorney review, the family demanded that the governor of Georgia immediately authorize the inquiry instead. The Johnson family, together with the NAACP and other civil rights activists, then held a rally at the state capitol in Atlanta.
The governor’s office released a statement indicating that they would await the report of the U.S. District Attorney. The independent autopsy found, among other things, that Johnson’s body was stuffed with newspapers. The funeral home that processed the body following the GBI’s autopsy stated that they never received Johnson’s organs from the coroner. Johnson’s internal organs were said to have been “destroyed through natural process” and “discarded by the prosecutor before the body was sent back to Valdosta,” according to the funeral home owner.
In November 2013, 290 hours of surveillance tape from 35 cameras that covered the gym area was released to CNN following a court request. A forensic analyst enlisted by CNN found that tapes from two cameras are missing an hour and five minutes of footage, while another set was missing two hours and ten minutes of footage. Attorneys for the Johnson family expressed fears that the camera footage was edited as part of a “cover-up”. In August 2014, the parents of Brian and Brandon Bell filed a $5 million lawsuit against Ebony Magazine after the magazine published a series of articles naming two students as possible suspects in the death. The magazine used pseudonyms but was otherwise accurate in descriptions of the boys, including the fact that their father was an FBI agent.
In November 2015, the DOJ filed a motion in the civil case to intervene and stay the case. The U.S. Attorney said allowing evidence discovery in the civil suit to continue would have a “chilling effect” on the federal investigation, which had expanded into investigating possible obstruction and grand jury witness tampering. After the DOJ’s motion was denied, Jackie and Kenneth Johnson dismissed their own wrongful death lawsuit, saying that they hoped to refile it after the conclusion of the DOJ’s investigation. Jackie and Kenneth Johnson were subsequently sued for more than $850,000 in attorney fees and $1,000,000 in defamation damages.
On June 20, 2016, the US DOJ announced that they would not be filing any criminal charges related to Johnson’s death – WTF? Oh he was a Black child of violence, but not dead by a gun? On August 10, 2017, a judge ruled that Johnson’s family and their attorney must pay more than $292,000 in legal fees to the dozens of people they accused of foul play in a lawsuit.
What can money buy?
The fact that no one mentions Kendrick Johnson’s blood type that was universal. A school full of surveillance cameras and no one was watching. All billions of dollars worth of security in the USA, and kids aren’t even safe in schools today. It isn’t a vaccine that is needed to protect the children, but people in positions of power and trust who aren’t easily swayed by the dollar or a bribe. To many unanswered questions in the death of a young Black child in a public school, that not one Black leader came to support the family or protesters.
Did the family of Kendrick Johnson have an investigation that was full of integrity or something else? In an unprecedented study of state government corruption conducted by The Center for Public Integrity, Georgia ranked lowest among all fifty states on the study’s corruption index. The watchdog’s heralded state integrity investigation rendered a scathing critique of all governmental agencies in Georgia citing rampant corruption and graft flourishing at every level. Regarding the mechanisms for judicial accountability and transparency in Georgia, no state possessed a profile more vacuous and repugnant. Notwithstanding Georgia’s 1,800 judges, the state’s judicial oversight committee employs just one part-time attorney making it the only state in the union with more than 1,000 judges to employ less than two full-time members.
The question arises again with more evidence to make one wonder if the family of Kendrick Johnson got a fair trial. Should the case be reopened with so much evidence of government corruption during the time of the investigation? Waiting for justice in the state that is ranked last for integrity!
Flashback News Headline 2012 – More arrests in Georgia government inquiry
Prosecutors have detained more former government officials and a national broadcasting executive on allegations of forgery and bribery, widening an investigation the opposition has labelled as politically motivated. More than 20 ex-officials have been charged with abuse of power since the party run by Mikhail Saakashvili was ousted in an election in October. Following the leaders, everybody cheating to win? Money making a difference in decisions of those in positions of power and truth?