Investigation Into The Death of Kendrick Johnson – DOJ’s Announcement of No Charges

(I’m writing this on 3 hours of sleep, so please forgive any typographical errors.)


Kendrick Johnson

In January 2013, 17-year old Kendrick Johnson was found dead in a gym mat in the Lowndes High School gym in Georgia. The US Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia opened an investigation in October of 2013.

This afternoon, DOJ offices announced that they will not file criminal charges in the death of Kendrick Johnson due to “insufficient evidence” to prove that anyone “willfully violated Kendrick Johnson’s civil rights” or committed any other crime.

Acting U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon stated;

 “The Department of Justice, in particular the lawyers and investigators who have worked tirelessly on this investigation, express their most sincere condolences to Kendrick Johnson’s parents, family, and friends. We cannot imagine the pain of their loss, or the depths of their sorrow. We regret that we were unable to provide them with more definitive answers about Kendrick’s tragic death.”

In October 2015, the DOJ filed a motion in the civil case that Kendrick’s parents filed for wrongful death.  In their filings, they said that their investigation expanded to include witness tampering and obstruction of justice.  They also advised the Georgia court that the grand jury had convened.

CNN reports;

“The Johnsons affirmed that investigators told them the initial autopsy conducted by the state medical examiner was wrong and the autopsy performed by the independent pathologist they hired, which indicates their son’s death was the result of blunt force trauma, was correct.”

It’s not often that I offer my personal opinion in posts involving investigations, but there is a similarity between the DOJ’s decision in this case, and that in the case of George Zimmerman.  The comparison is worth addressing.

In both cases, the DOJ would look for evidence that a crime was committed that violates civil rights.  In both cases, the DOJ convened a grand jury.  In both cases, the DOJ announced that they were not filing charges, without stating what the grand jury decided.

The DOJ has a reputation.  Its investigated arm, the FBI, attempts to bring plea bargains to avoid trial.  If the accused does not plead guilty, the DOJ convenes the grand jury and seeks indictment.  Indictments are sealed until the accused are taken into custody.

This causes me to wonder if the “insufficient evidence” simply means that the U.S. Attorney overseeing the case does not want to bring the case to a jury trial in a venue where it would be almost impossible to seat an impartial jury.

Posted on 06/20/2016, in Department of Justice, Kendrick Johnson and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 47 Comments.

  1. Two sides to a story

    Disappointing, but DOJ does have an extremely high bar (and it is difficult) to prove civil rights violations. I do feel that some day, some way, the truth will come out and justice will be served, at least karmically. Tick-tock, Mr. Z, and all those who harmed Kendrick Johnson.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Two sides,
      Absolutely. Federal judges raised the bar on requirements to prove civil rights violations. It was said by some in the legal profession that the judges thought of such cases as being able to read minds. It’s like Dylann Roof saying that he didn’t drive all the way to Charleston to kill Black people — he just thought that killing in a church would be like shooting fish in a barrel. That’s probably why the feds also charged him with committing a hate crime due to religion.

      The federal grand jury can very well find that a murder was committed, but without “sufficient evidence” that the murder was committed to violate a civil right, the feds cannot prosecute. That is under the state’s jurisdiction, thanks for the Civil War.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kendrick’s father was led to believe there would be charges.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. NavyDad0007

    I watched the 11 Alive Live stream Mr. Johnson said to reporters DOJ agreed with Their Pathologist (Dr. Anderson) & that the GBI Pathologist got it wrong so as confusing as this what do You all here make of it?

    Liked by 2 people

    • NavyDad,
      The best I can gather is that the DOJ is saying that Kendrick’s death was a homicide, but there’s no proof that he was killed because of his race, gender, gender preference, or religion. Since no one has been charged, the state of Georgia can proceed on the DOJ’s findings, but that is not likely to happen.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Artavia Anderson

    I just don’t see the purpose of the DOJ. If they know a cover up has occurred, why isn’t that enough or sufficient evidence that his civil rights were violated? Please help me understand this?


    • Hi Artavia and thanks for your comment. I apologize for not seeing it in moderation when you submitted it. Also, I’ve been on vacation, so please forgive the delay.

      I’m not sure that the DOJ was investigating a cover-up. The federal government’s investigation in this case would involve whether Kendrick was killed because of his race, religion, gender preference, or any of the other protected characteristics. An investigation of a cover-up would have to involve members of law enforcement doing the cover-up to deprive Kendrick of his civil rights.

      As Rachael shared, the DOJ’s decision is like being kicked in the gut.


  5. I just don’t see the purpose of the DOJ. If they know a cover up has occurred, why isn’t that enough or sufficient evidence that his civil rights were violated? Please help me understand this?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey Ladylove. One of the agreements that came out of the Civil War is that the states retain power to legislate their own laws and jurisdiction to enforce them. The federal government also has its own legislation but is limited to constitutional violations and crimes against the federal government and its employees along with federal laws that effect the nation.

      Kendrick’s death was under the jurisdiction of the county where he died in Georgia and thus, Georgia state. The federal investigation was to determine if Kendrick’s death was caused by a violation of his constitutional/civil rights. Was he killed because of his race, gender, sexual preference, religion?

      Witness tampering and obstruction that crossed state lines, or were conducted electronically, (over wire), can be handled by the DOJ. However, they said in their release that there is no sufficient evidence that anyone “willfully” committed any crime. That speaks volumes. We might reasonably conclude it means that people used the ignorance of the law defense, which essentially is no excuse for violating the law, but it seemed to have worked this time.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. This smells like a rat. Hugs, Barbara

    Liked by 3 people

  7. NavyDad0007

    Reblogged this on neonthegreat132321's Blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Mr. Militant Negro

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Are any investigations in Kendrick’s death still pending?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mindyme,

      “Are any investigations in Kendrick’s death still pending?”

      Not to my knowledge.

      Liked by 2 people

      • We may never know exactly what happened to Kendrick. 😦 His family deserves better than this.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Mindyme,
          Absolutely. One of the things that makes me suspicious is that the gym has surveillance video, but did not record when he purportedly went into the mat. I don’t know the school’s policy, but question why after Kendrick was in class and disappeared, that the school did not contact his parents. Another suspicious thing is why was there blood on the door, and the school behaved as if it was not a safety hazard to the students on the premise that it was not Kendrick’s blood.


  10. I just saw this a little while ago and felt like I had been kicked in the gut. Not that it was a surprise, just a kick in the gut.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Rachael,
      It did come as a surprise to Kendrick’s parents. When they dismissed their wrongful death lawsuit without prejudice, their attorney said it would be refiled after the DOJ’s investigation because the investigation turned up some facts that would be beneficial in the civil case.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. It is my opinion that the investigation on this case fell though the cracks. Around mid January, 2016, the second U.S. attorney for Ohio’s northern district Steven Dettelbach, who was in charge of looking into the death Kendrick Johnson, made public that he was resigning in February. He had just replaced the 2013 original DOJ attorney, Michael Moore in Nov 2015.

    The attorney, Benjamin Crump started out helping the Kendrick family but later withdrew.

    This young man deserves better.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Gronda,
      Regarding Benjamin Crump …
      When he first announced that he was on the team representing Kendrick’s parents. White Supremacists became concerned and wanted Crump disbarred for the unlicensed practice of law. You might already know this, but when attorneys are licensed in one state to practice law, but want to represent a client in another state, they file an application for pro hac vice for the court to approve them to practice in that court.

      The court approved attorney Crump’s first application, which was to represent Kendrick’s parents to get the court to release the case file to them. CNN intervened and the court granted the motion that the case file be given to Kendrick’s parents and CNN.

      When Kendrick’s parents filed their wrongful death lawsuit, attorney Crump filed another pro hac vice application to represent Kendrick’s parents on that cause of action. However, the court never ruled on his application. Late last year, attorney Crump wrote a letter stating that he had not consulted on the case, nor prepared documents nor appeared in court on the wrongful death claim. There’s a reason for that.

      I documented the scheme to have attorney Crump charged with the unlicensed practice of law at this link.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I doubt much will come from this … The Grand Juror who wanted to talk after Darren Wilson wasn’t brought to trial for killing Michael Brown.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I misunderstood this when I first read the post on The Militant Negro™. I see that there is no question that this young man was murdered, the question revolves around whether it was a hate crime. It sounds as if the bar has been raised so high that we can no longer prosecute an obvious hate crime.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Robert,
      You got it!

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s an outrage — we must end the decades long Republican reign of terror. To those who say that post parties are corrupt I say I agree. But the ‘bar’ was raised by people who do not represent the kind of democracy that prosecutes hate crimes–these people represent a faction in our democracy that seeks to normalize hate crimes.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Robert,
          In the past, my circles, if you can call it that, consisted mostly of lawyers. What was noticed in 2008 after the election of Barack Obama, was that in some federal districts, the judges started committing judicial nullification of some laws. Meaning, they raised the requirements of proof so high that no one can get over the hurdle. That was passed to juries and on the concept that racism no longer exists in America because of the election of Obama.

          It almost takes the perpetrator being caught on camera and audio making statements that they are attacking or killing because of the victim’s race, religion, or sexual preference. Even then, the perpetrator is allowed to explain that it was just words, (they have Black friends, or gay friends, or Muslim friends), so the murder was a murder was a murder, but not because of the victim’s race, sexual preference or religion. When the state does not prosecute, the DOJ’s hands are tied.

          Liked by 4 people

          • Nullification is an old Confederate trick.

            Code words: States Rights.

            It’s funny to watch the GOP backpedaling on it’s racism and homophobia.

            Suddenly is all about what America stands for and apparently America doesn’t stand for blatant racism and violent homophobia.

            I don’t think that most Americans stand for these things but the GOP does stand for those things provided it’s all said politely by a candidate who stays on ‘script’.

            America will be a post racial culture when racism no longer works as a rallying cry for the economically predatory elite.

            Until then, we need laws that are designed to balance the scales…again…

            Liked by 4 people

          • Robert,
            It brought a smile to my heart to know you understand what I meant by judicial nullification.

            As we see in this case, the federal government is limited and cannot prosecute “state” crimes, yet the GOP hawks about limiting government.


            “America will be a post racial culture when racism no longer works as a rallying cry for the economically predatory elite.”

            Now, you’ve combined the two truths! In many countries, discrimination is enacted based on classes or even gender. America has an additional identification to establish classes and it’s based on race. What I’ve observed since the 60’s is that each time a law is passed to assist a “class” that’s been oppressed, it harms others as well. Remember when getting a job only required a high school diploma? Young men and women were trained on the job, and many excelled and moved up the ladder.

            As more minorities earned high school diplomas, qualifications changed to require 2-year college degrees. As more minorities earned 2-year college degrees, qualifications changed to require a Bachelor’s. Tuition increased and now we have a generation of people of all colors with college degrees and student loans that they cannot afford to repay. Why? Because of “nullification” of laws enacted to help poor and middle-class minorities and women have a fair chance of being financially independent.

            That the secret code to “trickle down economics.”

            It’s a subject I could probably talk on for years.

            Liked by 3 people

          • I always laugh when we celebrate the getting of ‘rights’ in the U.S. —

            I think ‘rights’ are important.

            But ‘civil rights’ are meaningless
            in a nation that allows it’s most marginalized citizens to die in the streets. Rights only have meaning when they are enforced and codified so that they can’t be abused by the State; for instance, the right of the mentally ill to refuse treatment.

            This isn’t a right, for the sickest it’s a death sentence.

            I know many other baby boomers who were passionately active in the Civil Rights Movements of the late 20th Century.

            Those of us who came from the poor and working class need to stand up and say that we didn’t risk our lives and livelihoods to create a more diversely greedy corporate elite.

            I love the fact that the next President might be a woman. I’ll love it even more if she demonstrates a commitment to recognizing
            that homelessness is a crime against humanity and mandating that the Federal Government use it’s vast resources to end this violence during her term.

            Liked by 3 people

          • Robert,
            For our veterans, the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act was passed in 2003. Many of the states did not require compliance with the affidavit until 2008. While men and women were in foreign countries serving America, creditors and mortgage companies were suing and foreclosing getting default judgments.

            Guess what does the military recommends when returning soldiers find that creditors violated the SSCRA? They tell them to obtain private legal counsel. In the midst of returning home from active duty and adjusting back to civilian life, they are suppose to have the time, the mind, and the finances, to get a lawyer to redress what federal law forbids creditors and mortgage companies to do while they were serving this country.

            What upsets me more is that many homeless shelters do not know about SSCRA to start a process of getting help for homeless veterans who qualify for that redress.

            Liked by 2 people

          • My partner’s Sister in Law had to have surgery. She has Lupus which complicates any surgical procedure.

            She has a complicated surgery and three days later the hospital wanted to discharge her.

            Fortunately he knows the rules that govern medicare patients and told the administration he was challenging the discharge which automatically stops it.

            It’s a good thing he did because she became deathly ill and had to have another surgery to clear an infection that had developed on the surgical site…she also spent the following week in ICU.

            The hospital had no advocate or Ombudsman available. Had he not known how to proceed she would have been discharged and possibly have died. The cause of death would not have been listed as neglect and profiteering malpractice but ‘complications from lupus’.

            We don’t know the precise number of people who die each year from the predatory practices enshrined by unregulated capitalism but the numbers are probably much larger than any of us want to believe.

            If you must go into the hospital in the U.S. it is essential to have a family member or friend watch every move–especially when you consider the fact that the hospital is in charge of the documentation of your stay.

            The corruption of the free market places all of us at risk.

            As for the way the U.S. treats its vets: we owe so much to the men and women who were used in Bush’s war of choice in Iraq. We owe these people housing and medical care for the rest of their lives.

            The decision to accept and atone for the national betrayal or their trust requires a nation of people who are mature enough to get past the childish name calling that mars this nation’s politics.

            For me it comes down to a mantra: Keep your game and your cheats on your computer and out of my life and the lives of my loved ones. Life is not a game and people are more than ‘winners’ and ‘losers’…especially when the game is rigged.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Robert,
            I’m happy to hear that your partner’s sister-in-law survived the complications.

            In a nutshell, it helps for people to inform themselves about proper policies, rules and the law.

            Last night, I read a piece about homelessness and learned that a good majority of homeless people are those who aged out of foster parent programs. If the foster parent system is driven by greed where foster parents do not prepare teens for making it on their own at the age of 18, then something is very wrong with that system. Foster children are not “borders” in a home. They are suppose to be part of the family and raised like a biological child. If the hearts of foster parents are not in that direction and they are only in it for the money, then they should lose their license to be foster parents.

            Re: the childish name calling that mars this nation’s politics. We are a nation that places criminal consequences on physical violence. It has turned into expressions of verbal violence cloaked under a first amendment right. I have no respect for the name-calling.

            Liked by 1 person

          • The foster care system is another tool for breeding poverty.

            The poor are a people whose lives are used as examples of what the system is will to do to people who ‘opt out’.

            The fact that today’s very poor have no way to opt in is incidental.

            After a lifetime of shaming most poor people believe that they are the problem simply because that’s what they’ve always heard.

            Our nation uses our shredded public assistance programs as a death trap.

            The ‘stipend’ we call ‘disability’ is 100 percent less than one needs to sustain a life while pursuing new skills to return to work.

            Six to eight hundred dollars a month is not enough for anything so most truly disabled people end up homeless.

            The policies we let our government implement are a choice.

            Even the most media deprived person can access the information he needs to make an informed decision so I find it baffling that most people don’t know that many of their
            most cherished political assumptions are based on outright lies.

            I’ve seen a meme everywhere lately that states that a Stanford Study shows that Democrats rigged the primaries.

            All it took was a visit to Snopes to discover that the ‘study’ was research by two Stanford Students, that it received no peer review, and is independent of Stanford and therefore not a Stanford Study. Oh yes and the people who funded it have lots to gain from the defeat of Hillary Clinton.

            I got all that in one click.

            So why hasn’t everyone who has ‘shared’ that meme verified that it is completely true?

            This is the irony of our time: we live under the dictatorship of a brutal economic system that benefits only the most vicious because the people who have the least to gain either vote for it or refuse to vote at all.

            They choose to believe two most useful deceptions of them all: that both parties are exactly alike and all moral failures are equal.

            Poverty is a weapon of control in the United States and that’s why our leaders work so hard to perpetuate it.

            If we give people access to resources they will use them to improve their lives and then we get what we had in the 1960’s: a generation of educated working and middle class youths who refused to silently collude with the brutality of our illegal war in Viet Nam.

            Too much democracy was how Nixon’s advisers explained it and this resulted in a detailed plan to divide and conquer the American People.

            And it worked.

            Red and Blue?

            How convenient.


          • Robert,
            Other than Word Press, Twitter is the only other social media venue that I post to and participate in. I’ve seen “headlines” and memes tweeted that are not factual. I’ve had people ask that I blog on a case and when I’ve researched it, I find that the story is not what they think because of the “headline” or meme.

            About homelessness and the disabled …. so many of them depend on Section 8 housing. They end up living without socialization and just the bare necessities in the apartment.

            Liked by 1 person

          • The most criminal aspect of the way we abuse the mentally ill is that we accept homelessness as a natural condition of the illness when in fact it entirely due to stigma. The most shameful part of this is that the community mental health system was supposed to ‘replace’ institutions. Community supports were supposed to provide the structure that people needed outside of the hospitals. Our political leaders not only broke their promise to the people they forced out of the hospitals, they did it without a second thought and managed to convince the rest of us to accept this degradation of our fellow citizens as normal.

            The last forty years of the 20th century saw us dive into the squalor of celebrating greed–and we are almost 20 years into the 21st century and are only now beginning to rouse ourselves from the trance to see just morally compromised we are…and the ironic part is that this immorality was imposed on us by people who claim to stand for family values and faith.


          • Robert,
            By the way, I’m following you on Twitter. If you want to follow back, I’m @XenaBb7.

            Liked by 1 person

          • No Robert — thank YOU.

            Liked by 1 person

  14. This is a goddam shame, but if anyone thinks the death and the mystery will be forgotten, they are sadly mistaken. At some point down the road, all will be revealed, I don’t doubt that one bit. I hope I live long enough to see it.

    Liked by 4 people

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