Kendrick Johnson’s Parents Sue School District
Hat Tip To Yahtzee.
Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson have filed suit against a Georgia school district claiming it was negligent in protecting their son from harassment and bullying, which they allege led to his death. The lawsuit, filed in State Superior Court, also alleges that Lowndes County Board of Education violated Kendrick’s constitutional right to equal protection based on race.
Discoveries in this case have been numerous and shocking. The Sheriff’s Office ruled that Kendrick’s death was accidental. They contend that Kendrick climbed into the center of the gym mat to reach for a shoe, got stuck, and (in lay man’s terms), died from inability to breathe while upside down.
Photographs of the scene provide that Kendrick’s shoes were on top of his feet, and not at the bottom of the gym mat.
In May 2013, two reports were released. Both were written by paramedics with the South Georgia Medical Center Mobile Healthcare Service. According to the reports, Kendrick’s body showed obvious signs of a struggle. His body was found in a pool of blood and vomit. One of the paramedics reported that he considered the high school gym as the scene of a criminal homicide. The Sheriff however, insisted that Kendrick’s death was an accident.
Kendrick was buried, and by an order of the court, his body was later exhumed. His parents had an independent, postmortem autopsy performed and it was then that it was discovered that all of Kendrick’s internal organs had been removed and replaced with newspaper. Dr. William R. Anderson, a forensic pathologist with the private firm Forensic Dimensions, located in Heathrow, Florida, found “unexplained apparent non-accidental blunt force trauma” to the teen’s neck and concluded the death was a homicide.
At one point, the school refused to turn over surveillance video of the gym for the last day that Kendrick was in school. When the video was received, sections had been edited out.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is on the legal team representing Kendrick’s family, told NewsOne Now; “We now cannot re-test his organs to see what happened because the funeral home threw them away or Georgia medical examiner threw them away. They’re pointing fingers at each other but we need to know because whoever did that should be accountable to this family.”
In October 2013, U.S. Attorney Moore for the Middle District of George, launched a federal investigation into the case. On March 13, 2014, in Macon, Georgia, four of Johnson’s classmates as well as students from nearby Valdosta High School appeared before the federal grand jury looking into the death. The investigation is ongoing.
In February 2014, Kendrick’s parents filed suit against the Harrington Funeral Home in Valdosta, Georgia, who handled Kendrick’s body, claiming they committed negligence and fraud. Kendrick’s family alleges that the mishandling and disposal of Kendrick’s organs was in attempt to thwart investigation into Kendrick’s death.
For more information, Jim Fisher, a professor of criminal justice at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, and a former FBI agent, has written “Was Kendrick Johnson Murdered?” which you can read on his blog.
Click here to read the lawsuit.