ATLANTA (AP) — During a rally at the state Capitol Wednesday, lawyers for the family of a Georgia teenager found dead at school inside a rolled-up gym mat called on the governor to order a coroner’s inquest.
The body of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson was found Jan. 11, and sheriff’s investigators concluded that he died in a freak accident. Johnson’s parents insist someone must have killed him.
Johnson’s parents and their lawyers were among about 20 speakers who addressed a crowd of roughly 200 people gathered for a “Who Killed K.J.” rally on the steps of the Georgia Capitol. Other speakers included Martin Luther King III, state lawmakers and various others. Another rally is being planned in Valdosta on Jan. 11, the anniversary of Johnson’s death.
A coroner’s inquest is necessary to change the official cause of death from accident to homicide so that it can be properly investigated, said Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Johnsons. He also represents the parents of Trayvon Martin, the teen shot and killed in Florida.
“Gov. Deal is aware that federal authorities, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI, are looking into the case and we’ll await their report to determine if further action is needed,” Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said in an email after the rally. “Certainly, if another investigation is called for, the governor would be open to that.”
U.S. Attorney Michael Moore in October said he was conducting a formal review of the evidence in the case. He said if there’s sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal civil rights investigation, he will ask the FBI to conduct it.
Authorities have said they suspect Johnson became trapped trying to retrieve a shoe that fell into the center of the large, rolled mat. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner concluded that he died from positional asphyxia, meaning his body got stuck in a position in which he couldn’t breathe.
Johnson’s family had his body exhumed over the summer so they could get a second opinion from a private pathologist. Dr. William R. Anderson in an August report said he detected hemorrhaging on the right side of Johnson’s neck. He concluded the teenager died from blunt force trauma near his carotid artery and that the fatal blow appeared to be non-accidental.
A lawyer for Johnson’s parents filed court papers in October requesting that a judge order a coroner’s inquest. The judge overseeing that case has said he’ll wait to decide whether to order one until the U.S. attorney’s office completes its review.
Crump says federal investigations take can take too long and that Johnson’s parents have already waited 11 months and need answers.
“We cannot wait on the federal government to do what the state government in Valdosta is supposed to do,” he said.
Lawyers for the family on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Georgia secretary of state’s office against Antonio Harrington, the owner of Harrington Funeral Home in Valdosta. When Johnson’s body was exhumed for a second autopsy, some of his organs were missing and his body cavity was filled with newspaper, and the family claims Harrington misled them about the condition of his body or mishandled the body.
An attorney for the funeral home, Roy Copeland, did not return phone messages seeking comment Tuesday and Wednesday. Copeland has previously said Johnson’s organs were missing when the body arrived at Harrington. He also defended the use of newspaper as being in keeping with standard embalming practices of filling body cavities with materials like sawdust or cotton.
(AP Photo: Jacquelyn Johnson, second from left, the mother of Kendrick Johnson, the south Georgia teenager found dead inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in his school, is embraced by Monique Mosely, left, as Johnson’s daughter Kenyetta, right, stands by following a rally, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, in Atlanta.)
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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