It’s been ten years since school officials found Kendrick Johnson deceased in a rolled-up wrestling mat. This week, his family filed a $1 billion lawsuit against several Georgia law enforcement agencies.
Multiple investigations ruled his death a “freak accident” — the result of falling headfirst into an upright mat and getting stuck. However, his family believes the 17-year-old’d death was a covered-up homicide.
“It’s a shame that we have been having to fight for 10 long years, and nobody seems to care about Kendrick. He’s just another child that they want to sweep under the rug,” Jackie Johnson, Kendrick’s mother, said per Fox5 Atlanta.
As a result, the family is suing the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia Bureau of Investigations.
Previous Findings Into Kendrick Johnson’s Death
The state’s medical examiner, per WSB-TV, previously ruled that Kendrick Johnson suffocated to death while reaching for a shoe.
However, an autopsy the family ordered in June 2013 determined Johnson suffered blunt-force trauma to the right side of his neck. Then, a third autopsy from the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner in August 2014 also determined the teen’s death was accidental and due to “positional asphyxia.” A second amended report the following year labeled the “cause of death and manner of death” undetermined.
Camera footage that the FBI reviewed shows Kendrick Johnson walking in the gym, headed toward the mats storage area. The local time was 1:27 p.m. on January 10, 2013. This is reportedly the “last time Johnson was seen alive.”
School officials found him on the morning of January 11 in a “head-down” position inside a mat, and his feet were visible from the top of the rolled-up mat.
RELATED: No Charges Filed In The Second Investigation Of Kendrick Johnson’s Death, Georgia Sheriff Says: ‘Nothing Criminal Happened’
Kendrick’s father, Kenneth Johnson, alleges that their family knows their town and how “they will cover up for one another,” per Fox5Atlanta.
The outlet reports that the $1B lawsuit will “address the materially false information” in a case file synopsis that Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk released last year.
The second page of the document states:
“Any person who looks at this case objectively would know that it would be impossible to conceal any evidence due to the involvement of so many agencies and investigators. The FBI states unequivocally in its investigation that there was no cover-up or conspiracy, letter of 12/23/2014.”
Less than a week after releasing the synopsis, Sheriff Paulk pledged $500,000 of his personal money for information about the alleged murder.
“After the release of my synopsis of the Federal files on the Kendrick Johnson case, his parents have called me a liar and continue to state that Kendrick was murdered,” Paulk said, per Fox5 Atlanta. “Because of these statements, I am personally — with my own funds — offering a reward of one-half million dollars ($500,000.00) to anyone who comes forward with information that results in the arrest and conviction of a person for the alleged murder of Kendrick Johnson at Lowndes High School. Anyone who provided information will be required to do so in a contact interrogation at Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.”
This isn’t the first lawsuit the family has filed. In August 2018, a court ordered the Johnsons to pay over $300,000 in attorneys’ fees and expenses for related lawsuits.
One $100 million lawsuit was dropped in March 2016, while another didn’t progress due to missed filing deadlines, per the Valdosta Daily Times.
This is a developing story.