2nd Investigation Rules Death of Teen Kendrick Johnson Was a Freak Accident

Family Handout
Kendrick Johnson.Family Handout

The body of 17-year-old student Kendrick Johnson was found inside a rolled mat in his school's gymnasium.

For the second time since 17-year-old Georgia high school student Kendrick Johnson died in 2013, a local law enforcement review has concluded the basketball player's death was accidental.

Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk reopened the case last year after the teenager's parents helped him obtain 17 boxes of evidence from the U.S. Department of Justice's case file on the boy's death. 

Classmates at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia, found Johnson's body on Jan.11, inside a tightly rolled gym mat. Investigators said Johnson died in a freak accident, becoming stuck upside down and unable to breathe after he fell trying to retrieve a shoe that was inside the upright mat.

Johnson's parents have believed from the outset that their son was killed. 

Mom Jaqueline Johnson said Wednesday she wants federal investigators to take a second look at what happened to her son.

“You didn’t find nothing in 17 boxes? That’s the craziest lie you could have told. We already knew what team you were on. You are not on the team of righteousness,” the mother told WSB-TV.

Sheriff Paulk said he found no evidence of foul play in reviewing the documents and no evidence that anything in the case had been covered up. “The truth is the truth,” Paulk told the station.

The sheriff released a 16-page summary of his investigation. In it, Paulk wrote that his review did "not produce anything to prove any criminal act by anyone that would have resulted in the death of Kendrick Johnson."

The Justice Department reviewed the case in 2016. At the time, the department said its investigators "found insufficient evidence to support federal criminal charges."

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