Monday, August 29, 2016
Kendrick Johnson: Georgia; Bulletin: (A cautionary note. HL); Rollingout story (August 20, 2016) shows how the pursuit of justice - no matter how worthy and well-intentioned - can come with a cost - a hefty one at that. Reporter Yvette Caslin;
"On January 11, 2013, Kendrick Johnson’s lifeless body was upside down when it was discovered inside a rolled up wrestling mat in the gymnasium of Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia, where he was a student. Some has gone so far as to state he caused his own death after attempting to retrieve a shoe that had fallen down in the mat. A preliminary investigation and autopsy concluded the teen’s death was accidental. A medical examiner, Dr. Maryanne Gaffney-Kraft, determined he died of “positional asphyxia.” His parents, Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, had his body exhumed and hired an independent pathologist who performed a second autopsy on Johnson’s body. The medical examiner concluded Johnson’s death was a result of a homicide. Evidence of “blunt force trauma to the right side of Kendrick’s neck, near the jaw, and the manner of death was not an accident,” the Justice Department statement details. “He found hemorrhages to the jaw line area not detected during the GBI autopsy.” Georgia chief medical examiner Dr. Kris Sperry who supervised Gaffney-Kraft’s autopsy in an interview with WSB TV in Atlanta says the independent review commissioned by the Johnson family was “woefully inadequate and inconclusive.” In an effort to find answers in the mysterious death of their son, 17, Johnson’s family sued various city and county officials alleging they were complicit in their loved one’s death and in covering for Brian and Branden Bell. In June, the U.S. Attorney’s Office found “insufficient evidence” to charge anyone with Johnson’s unusual death. On Thursday, August 18, 2016, Judge Richard Porter stated in an email sent to all parties involved, “I have concluded that the motions should be granted and that some amount would be awarded in each motion.” Johnson’s grieving family has been ordered to pay attorney’s free in the $100 million lawsuit that was filed by their attorney, Chevene King, but eventually dropped in March 2016, but stated more charges would be filed at a later date. The accused parties are seeking to reclaim $850,000. Hearings will resume 9 a.m. Monday at the Lowndes County Courthouse to determine the amounts."
See the related Wikipedia entry at the link below; Body: The independent autopsy found, among other things, that Johnson's body was stuffed with newspapers. The funeral home which processed the body following the GBI's autopsy stated that they never received Johnson's organs from the coroner. Johnson's internal organs were said to have been "destroyed through natural process" and "discarded by the prosector before the body was sent back to Valdosta," according to the funeral home owner. That left a void, which the funeral home filled. The funeral home owner stated that it is standard practice to fill a void in this fashion, and that cotton or sawdust may also be employed for this purpose. Johnson's family filed a complaint, with a regulatory body, against the funeral home operator. A subsequent investigation by the Georgia Secretary of State's office found that the funeral home did not follow "best practice" and that other material was "more acceptable than newspaper". Nonetheless, the investigation cleared the funeral home of any wrongdoing. A spokesperson for the Secretary of State said that the investigation found that the funeral home "didn't violate any rules". The Johnson family subsequently filed a civil suit against the funeral home, seeking money damages.Surveillance tape: Surveillance footage of Johnson entering the gymnasium shortly before he died In November 2013, 290 hours of surveillance tape from 35 cameras that covered the gym area was released to CNN following a court request. A forensic analyst enlisted by CNN found that tapes from two cameras are missing an hour and five minutes of footage, while another set was missing two hours and ten minutes of footage. The cameras were motion activated, and the mat area was believed to be outside the camera's range. Two cameras covered the entrance into the gym before Johnson's arrival, and showed a student entering the gym before Kendrick Johnson. There were also some students standing near the entrance to the gym.
Attorneys for the Johnson family have expressed fears that the camera footage was edited as part of a "cover-up". However, both the president of the Valdosta-Lowndes County chapter of the SCLC, and the former lead investigator for that chapter, have stated that they believe the attorneys for the Johnsons have "not been entirely truthful in their statements" and that there is no cover-up in this case."