*Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson did not believe the official autopsy that claimed their 17-year-old son, Kendrick Johnson, had fallen into a rolled up gym map and suffocated, after he tried to retrieve a tennis shoe. So they hired their own private pathologist, whose finding resulted in the conclusion that the young man died from a bodily blow.
Further investigation found that Kendrick, an African American, had been bullied by a white classmate prior to his death, and somebody killed the teen and placed him in the mat to cover it up.
Now the Johnson’s have filed a lawsuit, suing school officials for failing to stop bullying by classmates who may have beaten their son to death, their attorney said on Tuesday.
The wrongful death lawsuit will allow them to subpoena witnesses and investigate the 17-year-old’s death.
The unusual circumstances surrounding Johnson’s death brought widespread attention and heightened suspicion with the probability of racial overtones; especially after it was discovered Kendrick had been harassed by a white classmate before he was found dead.
The lawsuit, filed on Monday, claims the Lowndes County school system in south Georgia failed to investigate assaults and harassment that ultimately escalated and led to his death.
“The focus has been placed on one or more of these kids,” said the family’s attorney, Chevene King, adding that he cannot prove that a fellow student killed the teenager.
A Lowndes County school spokeswoman was not immediately available to comment.
An investigation into the death, opened last year by U.S. Attorney Michael Moore for Georgia’s Middle District, is still pending, said a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor.
The death is being treated as accidental and not a homicide, said Brad Shealy, chief assistant district attorney for Lowndes County.