Valdosta, Georgia – In a press conference Wednesday, the attorneys for the family of Kendrick Johnson say they are one step closer to the truth after a judge ordered video to be released from the school gym where the 17-year-old was found dead.
Speaking on the steps of Lowndes County Superior Court, Valdosta, Georgia, attorney Benjamin Crump told reporters and about forty to fifty supporters that his team is now making significant progress to getting to the truth.
“It was a major victory not only for the Johnson family but all the community that is seeking the truth in this real-life murder mystery,” says Crump, who helped focus national attention on the Trayvon Martin case.
His comments came just moments after a closed-door meeting at the court, where Crump and attorney Chevene King sat around the table with attorneys for the sheriff’s office and the school district.
Southern Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Harry Jay Altman presided over the talks and by the end of the meeting ruled that video taken at the Lowndes High School gym on the day Kendrick Johnson died should be released.
“The judge signed an order that directed the sheriff to produce the material we requested in our open records act, that includes video and unredacted interviews of students around the time they were investigating Kendrick’s death,” says King, in an interview with theGrio after the conference.
He went onto say the lawyers for the sheriff’s office and the school district argued there were certain laws that did not permit them to release the footage but in the end the court order sided with the family.
“We are happy with the decision that was made because every parent deserves the truth and to know what happened to their child,” Kendrick Johnson’s father, Kenneth Johnson told theGrio.
The video features hours of footage taken on cameras located inside and outside the gym.
Johnson, a star athlete, was found dead inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in the Valdosta high school’s gym in January.
An initial autopsy found that the teenager died from accidental asphyxia but the family believes it was murder. Their fears have been backed by a second independent autopsy that found evidence to conclude Johnson died of “unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma.”
Wednesday’s ruling means that Johnson’s parents will finally be allowed to watch video that may reveal how their son was killed.
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