Valdosta Daily Times

Kendrick Johnson

October 31, 2013

U.S. Attorney's statement on Kendrick Johnson case

-- — Press remarks for United States Attorney

Kendrick Johnson Investigation, October 31, 2013

Good afternoon. I’m Michael Moore, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

This afternoon I want to make a few remarks concerning the investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson. Let me take a minute to thank you for the interest you have shown in this matter, and for coming today.

As you know, the body of Kendrick Johnson was found by students on January 11, 2013, in the gym of the Lowndes County High School.

The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department conducted an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Johnson’s death. As is customary, a GBI pathologist conducted an autopsy of the body. The investigators concluded that Kendrick Johnson’s cause of death was positional asphyxia, as a result of becoming accidentally lodged in the mat.

Shortly after the results of the autopsy were released, and the investigation closed by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department, my office was  contacted by the family’s attorney who requested a review of the local investigation.

At that time, I requested and received a copy of the complete investigative file from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department. The investigative file  included reports, photographs, videos, statements, and a number of other records.

In late August, I received a copy of the second autopsy report, which reached a  different conclusion as to the cause of Kendrick Johnson’s death.

For several months now, my office has been continuously engaged in obtaining and reviewing all of the evidence, case reports, and other investigative findings that are available pertaining to the death of Kendrick Johnson. Those efforts are ongoing.

As part of that process, there are several questions that must be answered or confirmed. First, what was the cause of Mr. Johnson’s death? Second, was Mr. Johnson’s death the result of a crime? Third, if Mr. Johnson’s death was the result of a crime, who committed that crime? Fourth, if a crime was committed, who was the jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute those responsible?

Federal jurisdiction is limited, and there may be circumstances where even if it is determined that Kendrick Johnson died as a result of a criminal act, it may not be a crime which could be prosecuted in federal court.

My office has received and reviewed the official documents and conclusions resulting from the initial investigation. I have personally reviewed these documents and have spoken to individuals involved in this investigation.

I have offered, through their attorney, to meet with the Johnson family. I have met with the family’s investigator and reviewed a number of documents that he  has provided. I asked the attorney representing the family to provide me with the full report from his investigator and any other evidence or information which he has developed. I received this information two weeks ago.

We have also asked the public to come forward with any additional information they may have. We are reviewing hundreds of telephone calls we have received about the case to determine if any relevant information exists. If anyone has factual and specific information relating to Mr. Johnson’s death, please contact my office at (478) 621-2701.

Many people have already called to express their concerns, fears and opinions about Mr. Johnson’s death and the subsequent investigation. We appreciate the depth of the concern these callers have expressed, but at this time what we need are people with actual facts and knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Johnson’s death to present those to us. Facts, not feelings and opinions, no matter how sincere, are the basis of a legal investigation.

At this time, I am of the opinion that a  sufficient basis exists for my office to conduct a formal review of the facts and investigation surrounding the death of Kendrick Johnson. I do this with an open mind, neither accepting nor rejecting the opinions of anyone who has previously investigated the circumstances of Mr. Johnson’s death.

At my request, the FBI is cooperating with us in our efforts. Should sufficient information be developed to warrant a criminal civil rights investigation, I will ask the FBI to open a civil rights, or any other appropriate, investigation.

As the United States Attorney, and within the confines of appropriate federal jurisdiction, I am committed to following the facts where they may lead. My objective is to discover the truth, and I believe that can only be done by gathering all of the relevant information  surrounding Mr. Johnson’s death. I am committed to doing everything in my power to answer the questions that exit in this case, or as many of them that we can.

As those of you who have covered my office or the Department of Justice in general know, we do not typically comment on pending investigations. Because this is now an ongoing investigation,  I am not going to take any questions at this time. Going forward, I will not be making any public comments about this matter until my investigative review is complete.

I want to ensure each of you, Mr. Johnson’s family, the law enforcement agencies, the local community and all of  those who are  interested in or have been affected by these tragic circumstances that my goal is to follow the facts, apply the law, to protect the independence and objectivity of the investigative process.

Thank you all very much.

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Kendrick Johnson
  • KJ’s parents claim racial bullying in lawsuit

    The parents of Kendrick Johnson have sued the Lowndes County School System, claiming officials neglected to protect their son from racial harassment and bullying that they said led to his death.

    May 15, 2014

  • Anonymous email in KJ case based on rumor, says author

    The teenage girl who authored an anonymous email claiming someone had confessed to murdering Kendrick Johnson says it was strictly a rumor that she felt conscience-bound to share with the sheriff’s office.

    March 27, 2014

  • keyboard.jpg Authorities: Confession in KJ case not credible

    An anonymous email claiming a former classmate of Kendrick Johnson had confessed to killing him was investigated and determined not to be credible, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • social.jpg Mom says sons harassed, threatened in KJ case

    Karen Bell has had it with the rumor-mongering about her family’s connection to the death of Kendrick Johnson on social networking sites like YouTube,  Twitter and Facebook.

    February 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnsons file civil suit against funeral home

    Kendrick Johnson’s parents have filed a civil lawsuit against the Harrington Funeral Home, claiming it negligently handled their son’s remains and deliberately withheld information about the condition of his body.

    February 6, 2014

  • 140121-Floyd_Rose001.jpg No response to KJ reward

    A local civil rights leader returned reward money to its donor Tuesday after it failed to yield any significant information pertaining to the death of Kendrick Johnson.

    January 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • State capitol rally today for new KJ probe

    A three-hour rally for a new investigation into the disputed death of Lowndes High student Kendrick Johnson 11 months ago is planned today on the front steps of the Georgia Capitol building.

    December 11, 2013

  • Kendrick_Johnson.jpg Where was Kendrick?

    About this series
    This is the third of four stories by the Valdosta Daily Times reviewing the official police file on the investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson. Today’s report is about the confusion surrounding Kendrick’s whereabouts the day before his body was found, explains police handling of a report that a person was attacked and falsely accused of killing Kendrick, and tells about the dissatisfaction of Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson with how authorities handled the immediate investigation.

    November 23, 2013 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • kendrick-johnson.jpg Finding Kendrick

    The Times continues its in-depth look at the investigative case file into the January death of Kendrick Johnson at Lowndes High School.

    November 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • kendrick-johnson.jpg Kendrick’s Final Walk

    A review of Lowndes High School video footage shows more than the moments Kendrick Johnson entered the old gymnasium where his body was discovered Jan. 11 in a rolled wrestling mat.

    November 21, 2013 1 Photo

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