Valdosta Daily Times

Kendrick Johnson

May 15, 2014

KJ’s parents claim racial bullying in lawsuit

VALDOSTA — 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.

Johnson’s body was found upside down in a rolled-up gym mat at Lowndes High School in January of 2013. A state autopsy ruled the 17-year-old’s death accidental. The Johnson family insists their son died of foul play.

The civil lawsuit was filed in Lowndes County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon. It stated school officials turned a blind eye to repeated badgering by a white student who once fought with Johnson and that bullying “at the hands of one or more students” contributed to his death.

The suit asserted these specific accusations:

• Negligence by school officials in their supervision of students and in training of faculty and staff to address harassment and bullying at the high school.

• Infliction of emotional distress on their son because of bullying.

• Violation of their son’s civil rights by failure to provide him equal protection as an African-American against personal attacks.

• Responsibility for his death in the high school’s old gymnasium.

Warren Turner, the attorney representing the school system, said officials had not yet been served with the civil complaint. Thus, he added, “it would be premature and inappropriate to make a public comment on this matter at this time.”

The suit asks the court to assess punitive and compensatory damages, including funeral expenses in excess of $5,000.

It was the parents’ second lawsuit this year in connection with their son’s death. In February, they sued the Harrington Funeral Home regarding the manner in which his remains were handled.

The dispute over Johnson’s death caused the U.S. Attorney’s office in Macon to open an inquiry last fall into the circumstances surrounding it.

The federal prosecutor later submitted  the case to a federal grand jury for review. The grand jury has yet to release its findings.

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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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