The death of teen Kendrick Johnson has been the source of grief for the family and confusion for the others involved in the tragedy. Much has been written about the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the young man’s body, but there is an underlying current of distrust for Lowndes County officials that have led many to believe that a conspiracy is afoot to protect certain individuals with powerful law enforcement connections from possible prosecution for what many believe is murder and not an accident.
The official cause of death for Kendrick Johnson is positional asphyxia due to his being trapped in an upright wrestling mat, which was deemed accidental. But members of the Johnson family dispute these findings and maintain that Johnson was in fact beaten and murdered. The condition of the body was horrific and for many reminded them of images of lynched Black teenager Emmitt Till. Despite the outcry of the family, there have been others on the periphery who claim that the evidence does not support murder or a cover-up. This has caused extreme pain and anger from the Johnson family and a large number of people who continue to fight for justice. Currently, the federal government is conducting a wide-ranging homicide investigation.
Marcus Coleman, family spokesperson, has indicated that the case is moving forward despite the claims of a tragic accident. Coleman spoke with rolling out recently and explained that the family will no longer respond to the claims of former Valdosta NAACP president and current Vladosta SCLC lead investigator Leigh Touchton, who in his belief is tied closely with the law enforcement community of Lowndes County.
“For me to continue to go back and forth over her false narrative is asinine and counterproductive,” said Coleman.
According to Coleman, the extent of Touchton’s investigation ended with the closing of the case by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department and she has not been privy to any information regarding the federal investigation. Per Coleman, Touchton’s “investigation” lasted only a few months, not 10 months as claimed by her in a recent statement.
Furthermore, Coleman maintains that Touchton has a direct relationship with the family of one of the accused students. This being said, there is a strong indication that Touchton is trying to introduce a false narrative that could possibly taint the public opinion of many who have been watching developments in the case. The fact of the matter is that the federal government, through the Justice Department, is involved, and U.S. Attorney Michael Moore said of the investigation “While our investigation has proven to be more complicated and taken longer than I had originally anticipated, we remain committed to following the facts where they may lead,”.
Recent developments in the case show that the investigation headed by Moore is not shying away from controversy and is seeking the truth. Recently, subpoenas were issued for several Lowndes County High School administrators, including the principal, the wrestling coach and his wife to answer questions relating to Johnson’s death for the investigation. In addition, the family attorney, along with the news giant CNN have demanded that the computer hard drives with recorded surveillance footage be released to determine if cameras or data had been altered on the day of incident or afterward. Coleman indicated that the chances are very good that this evidence will finally be released to investigators.
There has also been significant movement by the Johnson family, who recently filed a $100 million lawsuit that names 38 people they believe were involved in their son’s death and a conspiracy to cover it up. Among those named are a local FBI agent accused of commanding his two sons to attack Kendrick with the help of another LHS student and an unnamed John Doe and Jane Doe.