George Floyd unrest prompts petition to look into Kendrick Johnson’s death

Investigation into popular high school athlete may be reopened years after autopsy proves foul play

Kendrick Johnson
Kendrick Johnson (Family Picture)

The protest and nationwide civil unrest over the killing of George Floyd have sparked a petition calling for the investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson to be reopened. 

The body of 17-year-old Johnson, a high school sophomore, was discovered rolled up in a gym mat at Lowndes High School gymnasium on Jan. 11, 2013. State and local officials ruled Johnson suffocated after reaching for a pair of sneakers inside a mat and getting stuck, theGrio previously reported. 

READ MORE: Parents of Kendrick Johnson, student found dead in gym mat, exhume body for third autopsy

But his parents never accepted that his death was an accident. In 2018, they asked for and received permission to exhume their son’s body to have a third autopsy conducted. 

“Lord to have to disturb his resting peace breaks my heart into so many pieces but it has to be done,” Jacquelyn Johnson posted of her son on Facebook at the time. “The worst part is to have to bury him a third time like another whole funeral and he’s leaving us again.”

A petition is calling on the public to help with the “Justice for Kendrick Johnson” campaign. 

The petition, created by Jay Holden, notes how Johnson’s popularity as a high school athlete made him a favorite with the ladies. It also noted that the male students were said to have been jealous of him. One such student was Brian Bell, who allegedly confessed to killing Johnson. 

Kendrick Johnson

Kendrick Johnson (family picture) and Body found (Valdosta/Lowndes Regional Crime Laboratory via CNN

Here’s more allegations from the petition:

“Brian Bell has also stated that he killed Kendrick Johnson multiple times over the phone. Brandon Bell, who is both a student at Valdosta High School and the brother of Brian Bell, had got drunk at a party on July 4 of 2013 and told people that Brian Bell killed Kendrick Johnson.”

The petition goes on to address Ryan Anthony Domek-Hernandez, who said Bell told him that he “killed Kendrick Johnson by striking his neck with a 45-pound weight/dumbbell after they began arguing over Taylon Eakin,” a girl Bell allegedly liked. Eakin allegedly liked Johnson. 

“According to Brandon Bell, Brian Bell had told Ryan that if he did not keep quiet and help him move Kendrick Johnson’s body, his father, who is Rick Bell, who is a retired F.B.I. agent would make sure that he would pay for it,” the petition states.

It goes on to note that “After Kendrick Johnson’s mother and father [Kenneth Johnson] did a second autopsy on him, they had found out that his death was NOT accidental and he had died from blunt force trauma to the upper neck on the right.”

The family’s third autopsy supported the results of the second, that Johnson died of “non-accidental” trauma to his body, Atlanta Black Star reported.

READ MORE: White teens start ‘George Floyd challenge’ mocking his death

Now more than ever, the Johnson family needs help in their ongoing fight for justice.


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