The parents of the high school student found dead in a gym mat say that released surveillance tapes create more questions than answers.
Surveillance videos in the case of Kendrick Johnson, the high school wrestler in Georgia who was found dead inside a gym mat, have been released, but they have only intensified the family’s call for a coroner’s investigation into what they call a murder.
The video shows Johnson in the gym, with one clip in which he walked in and out of the camera frame. In the video, students suddenly appear. A third clip shows students playing in the gym and the mats where Johnson's body was found. But that scene is blurred.
The video recordings were released in response to legal action taken by the family of the teenager as well as CNN, which joined in the legal request. The incident occurred at a high school in Valdosta, Georgia.
“We feel that we have been stonewalled in this thing since the very beginning,” said Kenneth Johnson, the teenager’s father, in an interview with BET.com. “When we finally get the video, it’s not clear and you can’t make out much of anything. There are people going in and out of the video. It doesn’t make any sense.”
The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department declared the death, on Jan. 11, to be an accident. But the family has insisted in their belief that the wrestler was murdered. Michael Moore, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, said he will launch an official investigation into the death of Johnson, saying that “sufficient basis exists” to warrant such a probe.
Meanwhile, the family said it will appeal a court decision to delay any action on a coroner’s inquest until the federal investigation is completed.
“We’re appealing that decision because the family is outraged and heartbroken,” said Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the Johnson family, speaking with BET.com. “Who knows when a federal investigation will be completed? It could take six months, a year or longer,” Crump said. “The family wants answers now.”
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(Photo: Justice for Kendrick Johnson via Facebook)