Valdosta Daily Times

Kendrick Johnson

October 10, 2013

CNN broadcasts video, photos of scene of Kendrick Johnson death

VALDOSTA — In an interview Tuesday with CNN’s Victor Blackwell, a former FBI agent provided his opinion of previously unreleased video and images of the Lowndes High gym where Kendrick Johnson died.

CNN obtained a 15-minute video and almost 700 photos taken by investigators with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department to document the scene. The channel shared a few moments of footage from the video and several photos in which Johnson’s body is clearly seen inside a rolled wrestling mat.

Harold Copus, an Atlanta private investigator and former FBI agent, offered his analysis during the segment and said the photos indicated crime scene contamination after photos showed investigators not wearing protective shoe coverings inches from Johnson’s body.

Copus also expressed doubts that blood stains found on a wall near Johnson’s body would have been left there by school cleaning staff. It had been previously been stated by Lt. Stryde Jones with the sheriff’s department that the blood had been on the wall for an extended period of time and did not belong to Johnson, following DNA testing.

Kendrick’s father, Kenneth Johnson, questioned why a shoe that his son was supposedly reaching for when he became lodged in the wrestling mat did not appear to have any blood on it in photos. Photos not shown on air but described by CNN on their website reportedly show blood that had poured out of his body and spilled onto the floor. Copus concluded that some blood should be visible on the shoe if Johnson became stuck while reaching for it.

During the interview, Johnson’s parents maintained that their son’s death was the result of foul play, and Copus agreed.

Federal prosecutors in south Georgia are reviewing the video and photographs to determine whether a separate investigation is necessary, according to CNN.

In January, Kendrick “KJ” Johnson, 17, was found dead in the old Lowndes High gymnasium on the school campus. Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office proclaimed no foul play in the case on the same day as the teen’s body was discovered.

The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia Bureau of Investigation concluded that Johnson was alone in the gym, reached for a loose shoe, became trapped in a rolled-up wrestling-type mat and died from being upside down for an extended period of time.

The state’s autopsy confirmed these findings and concluded the death was accidental.

The Johnson family and many supporters never agreed with the findings and continue rallying outside of the Lowndes County Judicial Complex. They believe, based on the condition of Johnson’s body, that he was the victim of foul play.

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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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