This week, another autopsy was released of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson (pictured) who was found dead in his school’s gym. The autopsy indicates that Johnson was actually murdered, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.
Johnson’s body was found inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in Lowndes High School’s old gymnasium in January. An initial report by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office said the youth reached for a loose shoe that fell in to the center of the mat. He then became trapped in the mat, which was propped upright behind bleachers, and died from being upside down for an extended period. Officials also said he was alone at the time.
On the same day he was found, the state concluded his death was accidental; however, Johnson’s family refuted the reports, noting his bloated head and face during the first autopsy.
They believed he was murdered.
In June, they placed a successful court order to have Johnson’s body exhumed from a cemetery and re-examined by an independent pathologist.
Watch news coverage of Johnson’s body being exhumed here:
Dr. William R. Anderson presented his new findings in August, the Daily News reports. He claims there was hemorrhaging on the right side of Johnson’s cheek.
Despite receiving a copy of the findings, however, Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson said he stands by the original autopsy.
According to Watson, Johnson died from “unexplained,” non-accidental blunt force trauma, which was caused by asphyxia.
Since the state also supports the original report, there are no suspects in the death. In response to their unwillingness to further investigate, there have been daily gatherings and rallies in Downtown Valdosta. The Reverend Al Sharpton also visited to support the family.
Johnson’s family and supporters refused to comment when approached by the Valdosta Times. Lowndes County School Superintendent Wes Taylor also refused to comment on the second autopsy. According to Lynne Wilson, Lowndes County Schools PR director, the school system has yet to receive a report on the new findings.
Johnson’s parents have sent a copy of Anderson’s report to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department Of Justice. Unfortunately, that may not be much help.
In an e-mailed statement Wednesday, the DOJ said, “We do not see sufficient indication of a civil rights violation to authorize a civil rights investigation.”
But there was some good news: The Department said it is working with U.S. Attorney Michael Moore and “his office is continuing to monitor and evaluate this matter including the second autopsy report.”