Justice Department won't probe death of Georgia teen found in gy - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Justice Department won't probe death of Georgia teen found in gym mat

Posted:
Highlights
  • Kendrick Johnson, 17, was found dead in a rolled-up gym mat at his Georgia high school
  • Authorities ruled his death accidental, said he didn't have "significant injuries" before dying
  • The family questioned the ruling, ordering an autopsy that found "non-accidental ... trauma"
  • U.S. Justice Department doesn't find "sufficient indication of a civil rights violation"

By Carol Cratty. Victor Blackwell and Greg Botelho

The U.S. Justice Department will not conduct a civil rights investigation in the case of a teenager found dead in a rolled-up mat at his southern Georgia high school, a spokesperson for that agency said Wednesday.

Kendrick Johnson, 17, was discovered dead last January 11 headfirst in a rolled wrestling mat in the Lowndes County High School gymnasium in Valdosta, Georgia.

The Justice Department's criminal division is aware of concerns about Kendrick's death, but after reviewing the investigative file, it determined there is not "sufficient indication of a civil rights violation to authorize a civil rights investigation," according to the agency's spokesperson.

"We have discussed this matter with U.S. Attorney Moore, and his office is continuing to monitor and evaluate this matter, including the second autopsy report," the spokesperson added, referring to U.S. Attorney Michael Moore whose jurisdiction includes Valdosta.

That second autopsy report, which was obtained by CNN on Tuesday, found that Kendrick died as the result of "unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma."

This report directly contradicts an autopsy conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that determined that Johnson's death was the result of positional asphyxia. The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office ruled that his death was accidental.

Questioning that cause of death, Kendrick's family sent copies of the second autopsy report to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the U.S . Attorney for Georgia's Middle District and Lowndes County Coroner -- as well as the U.S. Justice Department's criminal division -- for review.

"I want to do the right thing by the people and the county and all concerned; I'm just not sure we have enough information," Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson said earlier this week. "I'm not about to refute anybody's findings because I'm not a doctor."

On May 1, a judge granted the Johnsons' request to exhume their son's body in order to conduct -- at their expense -- the independent autopsy.

That autopsy, done on June 15, found Kendrick had suffered blunt force trauma to the right neck and soft tissues "consistent with inflicted injury."

"This is unexplained -- most very, very likely inflicted, as opposed to something he caused himself, inflicted by another -- and therefore needs to be investigated as an open homicide investigation," said Dr. William R. Anderson with Forensic Dimensions in Heathrow, Florida, who conducted the autopsy. He characterized authorities failure to pursue the case as "mystifying."

The initial patient care report, written by EMTs with he South Georgia Medical Center Mobile Healthcare Service on the day Kendrick was found, pointed to "bruising (on) the right side jaw."

Yet a January 25 report from the Valdosta-Lowndes County Regional Crime Laboratory cited "no signs of blunt force trauma on Johnson's face or body." The autopsy results released May 2 by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation identified "no significant injuries."

Speaking earlier this week, Moore said his office has been working on Kendrick's case "for some time," though it had not launched a formal investigation.

"There are some members of the community that question the result," Moore said. "I want to make sure members of the community and the family and everyone involved has confidence in my work and my decision."

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Report: Air Algerie plane vanishes from radar

    Report: Air Algerie plane vanishes from radar

    Thursday, July 24 2014 7:28 AM EDT2014-07-24 11:28:48 GMT
    An Air Algerie flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers has disappeared from radar, the official Algerian news agency said Thursday.  Air navigation services lost track of the plane 50 minutes after takeoff early Thursday, last sited at 1:50 a.m. GMT (10:50p EDT), the agency said.

    More >>
    An Air Algerie flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers has disappeared from radar, the official Algerian news agency said Thursday.  Air navigation services lost track of the plane 50 minutes after takeoff early Thursday, last sited at 1:50 a.m. GMT (10:50p EDT), the agency said.


    More >>
  • Update: Autopsy reveals stab wound led to death of 4-year-old girl

    Update: Autopsy reveals stab wound led to death of 4-year-old girl

    Thursday, July 24 2014 4:50 PM EDT2014-07-24 20:50:12 GMT
    Victoria Wyatt (photo: family)Victoria Wyatt (photo: family)
    UPDATE: ATHENS, TX (KYTX) - An autopsy report reveals a stab wound to the chest contributed to the death of 4-year-old Victoria Wyatt.More >>
    UPDATE: ATHENS, TX (KYTX) - An autopsy report reveals a stab wound to the chest contributed to the death of 4-year-old Victoria Wyatt.More >>
  • Why Smith County won't be making rulings on immigration issue

    Why Smith County won't be making rulings on immigration issue

    We're learning more about what led Smith County commissioners to vote on some immigration resolutions and the reason for the outcomes. The commissioners court discussion Tuesday came down to what a county government's role is. More >>
    We're learning more about what led Smith County commissioners to vote on some immigration resolutions and the reason for the outcomes. The commissioners court discussion Tuesday came down to what a county government's role is. More >>
Powered by WorldNow

CBS19, MYTX & KCEB
2211 ESE Loop 323
Tyler, TX 75701
Phone (903) 581-2211
Fax (903) 581-5769

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KYTX. All Rights Reserved. Users of this site agree to the Terms of Service, Privacy Notice/Your California Privacy Rights, and Ad Choices.