uptown-kendrick-johnsonGeorgia teen Kendrick Johnson who was found dead in a rolled-up gym mat at his high school in January died of “unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma”, according to the family’s commissioned autopsy.  The report directly contradicts the findings of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which determined that Johnson died accidentally as a result of positional asphyxia.  Johnson, 17, was found dead January 11th headfirst in a wrestling mat at Lowndes County High School.  Inconsistencies in the official reports have led the family to question the investigation.  The family’s attorney, Chevene King, has sent the independent autopsy report to the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the GBI, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District, and Lowndes County Coroner.  The coroner has the power to call an inquest.  After reviewing the evidence and testimony, in a process similar to a grand jury proceeding, a jury would issue their findings on cause of death.  The findings have no civil or criminal weight.

“Coroner’s inquests are not something you do every day. I cannot tell you the last time,” Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson said, “I want to do the right thing by the people…I’m just not sure we have enough information.  I’m not about to refute anybody’s findings because I’m not a doctor.”

This might sound strange, but most “death investigators” are not required to be doctors.  PBS’ Frontline did an investigation into the state of death investigation in America and found that there are few standards, little oversight and the mistakes are literally buried.  Most doctors who conduct autopsies lack the proper training and certifications one would expect in such an important job.  Often the head of the medical examiner’s office or coroner’s office is politically elected and often lacks credentials.  You can watch the full Post Mortem:  Death Investigation in America analysis here.

On May 1st, a judge granted the family’s request to exhume their son for the purposes of a private, independent autopsy.  That autopsy found blunt force trauma to the right neck and soft tissues.  Dr. William R. Anderson with Forensic Dimensions in Heathrow, Florida conducted it.  The new findings support the initial patient report written by EMTs on January 11th.  That report noted bruising to the right side of the face.  A January 25th report written by the Lowndes County Regional Crime Laboratory cited “no signs of blunt force trauma” to the face or body.  The autopsy results released by the GBI on May 2nd identified “no significant injuries”.  U.S. Attorney Michael Moore is reviewing the case, but there is no formal investigation.

“There are some members of the community that question the result[s].  I want to make sure members of the community and the family…ha[ve] confidence in my work…” Moore said.

  1. Lon Spector says:

    The truth will never be known.


Join the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s