The body of a Georgia sophomore found dead in a rolled-up mat at his high school gym still waits for an additional autopsy nearly three months after it was discovered. Kendrick Johnson's family seeks to start a criminal investigation into a death initially ruled accidental by an autopsy — but which was complicated by the family's suspicion and the delays of the county authorities.
Holding 'No Justice, No Peace' signs, the family of the deceased Kendrick Johnson protested on the steps of the Lowndes County Judicial Complex. They were arrested after blocking the building's doors and preventing people from entering.
Seven family members were arrested for protesting the lack of expediency in the investigation. They hoped their protest would put more pressure on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, a notoriously underfunded agency, to move forward with the investigation. The protests were in part organized by the Valdosta State University and the Morehouse College NAACP chapters.
Johnson was a gifted athlete who practiced basketball and football, and dreamed of playing for the Florida Gators. He died rolled inside of a wrestling mat in his high school gym. Due to the suspicious circumstances, his family believe that their child was murdered. An iCNN report shows a photo (caution: Graphic) of Johnson when he was alive next to a closeup of his lacerated and clearly beaten face. Authorities claimed that on January 11, Johnson fell into the mats and was stuck up-side for long enough that blood rushed to his head and killed him. This, however, does not explain the lacerations to his face and body.
Meanwhile, the Lowndes High School administration refuses to release video of Johnson's last moments at the school. Apparently, no students, teachers of administrators noticed that Johnson was missing from his classes until his father worried that he did not return home after school. The county coroner, Bill Watson, admitted that the county's sheriff department, led by Chris Pine, did not notify him about Johnson's death on January 11. It is unclear how long it took for the sheriff’s department to notify Watson, or if any evidence was removed or changed prior to this. The ineptness of the county's Sherrif department has resulted in questions about the transparency of the investigation.
What exactly happened to Kendrick Johnson? Speculations still abound in this case, and the most difficult part of the story is that his family still awaits the most basic of answers — how did their child actually die? — -months later.