Attorneys say Kendrick Johnson footage raises more questions than answers
Valdosta, Georgia – The lawyers for the family of Kendrick Johnson held an impromptu media conference Thursday in response to hours-long surveillance video released from the high school gym where the 17-year-old was found dead.
Attorneys Benjamin Crump and Chevene King said they are concerned the newly-released footage contains suspicious edits, blurry images and no time or date lines to help determine the sequence of events.
Though, Lt. Stryde Jones with the Lowndes County sheriff’s office said time stamps were only visible on the school district’s server, not on any copies of the videos.
Still, King said given the “roadblocks” they have encountered they are concerned the case is starting to look like a cover up. “When does a coincidence stop being a coincidence?”
“What we have been given is awfully suspect and deserves the utmost scrutiny,” he told theGrio.
There were more than 30 cameras inside and outside the gym of Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia, where the body of Johnson was discovered. But the new video does not provide any obvious clues as to how he got into the rolled-up wrestling mat.
“Why it is the one camera that shows the mat is blurry and out of focus?” asked Crump. “Why is it that they give us 1900 hours of video and no time stamps to give us any context?”
“This family should not have to go through all of this just to find out what happened to their kid.”
Johnson, a promising athlete, was found dead in a mat in his school on January 11, 2013.
Lowndes County sheriff’s investigators maintained his death was freak accident and came up with the theory the teen became trapped trying to retrieve a shoe that fell into the center of the mat. An initial autopsy found Johnson died from accidental asphyxia or suffocation.
His parents have said from the very beginning this was an absurd explanation and they believe their son was murdered. Their concerns were backed by a second independent autopsy that found evidence to conclude Johnson died of “unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma.”
Other blunders include some of Johnson’s personal items going missing after his death and his internal organs being removed from parts of his body and stuffed with newspapers.
Last week, Michael Moore, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, said federal authorities will investigate the circumstances behind Johnon’s death.
Moore, who said he was committed to “following the facts,” explained that he came to his conclusion “after personally reviewing the evidence” and additional information from attorneys for the family of Kendrick Johnson.
The Johnson family attorneys have been pushing for an inquest into Johnson’s death. But this week a Georgia Superior Court judge said he wants to know what federal authorities discover before deciding whether to order a coroner’s inquest into the death of Johnson.
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