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Kendrick Johnson’s Parents File New $1 Billion Lawsuit Claiming Georgia Authorities Made False Claims About Their Son’s Gym Mat Death 10 Years Ago: ‘Going to Continue to Fight’

The parents of a south Georgia teenager who died 10 years ago after his body was found wrapped in a wrestling gym mat at his high school are suing the state investigation bureau and their county sheriff’s office to fight back at the long-held claim that their son’s death was a “freak accident.”

The suit was specifically filed against the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office to dispute the conclusions about the death of Kendrick Johnson.

Johnson was found dead in January 2013 at Lowndes High School in Valdosta by his classmates. His body was discovered facing downward in an upright, rolled-up gym mat in the back of the school’s gym.

Who Killed Kendrick?': Sheriff Reopens 2013 Case of Georgia Teen Found Dead Rolled-Up In Gym Mat at His High School
Kendrick Johnson’s death was initially ruled an accident, but a third autopsy proves otherwise. (Image courtesy of Johnson family)

A state investigation into Johnson’s death initially revealed that he died from asphyxia. After three autopsies were performed, findings showed that he died from non-accidental blunt force trauma. Investigators maintain that his death was accidental and believe that he suffocated after he reached into the upright mat to retrieve a pair of shoes, fell inside, and got trapped.

However, Johnson’s parents never bought the story.

Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson maintain the belief that someone killed their son and got away with murder while law enforcement covered up the crime. They say evidence from the third autopsy report is inconsistent with findings from the investigation. Johnson suffered bruises to his face and upper torso as well as lacerations on his ear, lip, knuckles, and arm, according to the suit. They don’t believe a gym mat could have caused such bruising.

They said photos taken of Johnson’s body show injuries that might have been caused by something like a Taser or stun gun.

“They killed the wrong child, but they got the right parents because we are going to continue to fight for Kendrick,”  Jackie Johnson told Atlanta’s Fox 5.

The federal suit they filed alleges that the GBI and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office deprived Johnson of rights and conspired to interfere with his civil rights in the investigation following his death.

Johnson’s parents claim that the county sheriff and GBI conspired to “make false writings in each of its official documents that misrepresent material facts and present an invented narrative and erroneous cause of death” for their son.

Law enforcement released statements reporting no trauma or major bruising to Johnson’s body. Authorities who initially responded to the scene where Johnson was found dead reported they discovered no evidence of blunt force trauma or foul play.

The Johnsons did file a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit a few years back against two sons of an FBI agent who they believed killed Kendrick. They ended up dropping the lawsuit, and federal investigators debunked that claim.

Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk has put up a $500,000 reward of his own money for anyone who can prove that Johnson’s death wasn’t an accident. Paulk has stated that he feels 100 percent sure there was no foul play.

The most recent suit filed by the Johnsons seeks $500 million in compensatory damages and $500 million in punitive damages, as well as a jury trial.

Read the full story at Atlanta Black Star.

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