The Justice Department has ruled there will be no charges filed in the 2013 death of Kendrick Johnson, the 17-year-old who was found dead inside a rolled up gym mat at his Valdosta, Georgia high school.
Though local and state investigators ruled Johnson’s death a freak accident, his parents, Kenneth and Jackie Johnson, have always believed their son was murdered. The Johnson family filed a $100 million wrongful death suit shortly after their son’s death, but it was withdrawn earlier this year.
On Tuesday, Christian Boone, Public Safety Reporter from The Atlanta Journal Constitution, spoke with Roland Martin on NewsOne Now about the DOJ’s ruling and reaction from the Johnson family about the Department of Justice’s failure to act.
One of the most troubling aspects of the Kendrick Johnson case revolves around the missing surveillance video from cameras in the school gymnasium. Martin said there are “camera angles that showed what was happening in the gym, but when it was time for the portion of the tape to see him in the mat, the video goes blank.”
Boone explained the cameras in the gym operated off motion detection technology. He also stated that video recorded at the scene was analyzed at the FBI’s Quantico facility during the federal investigation, “but no one has seen the actual [footage] except the FBI agents.”
He said the ruling from the DOJ has thrown Kendrick’s parents for a loop, as they “were led to believe there was something coming” in the form of federal charges.
NewsOne Now panelist Joia Jefferson Nuri believes the Department of Justice’s decision to not file charges may be an attempt to leave the investigation open until all of the unanswered questions are answered. She said, “There is a missing piece here that will unfold as time goes by.”
Martin also highlighted another glaring issue with the case involving the medical examiner and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, who were not willing to assist in the investigation of the Georgia teen’s death.
In response to Martin’s remarks about the apparent stonewalling by local officials, Boone said their actions “raised additional questions for people who thought that this was a mysterious death in the first place.”
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