Valdosta Daily Times

December 11, 2013

State capitol rally today for new KJ probe

Adam Floyd
The Valdosta Daily Times

ATLANTA — 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.

Organizers of the “Who Killed KJ” gathering said it will feature remarks by civil rights activists Al Sharpton, Joseph Lowery and Martin Luther King III, eldest son of the late Martin Luther King Jr.

Rickey Smiley, an Atlanta-based television host, actor and comedian, is also scheduled to speak at the 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. rally on behalf of the Johnson family, which contends their son was a victim of foul play and did not die accidentally.

Kendrick Johnson, 17, was found dead last Jan. 11, in an upright, rolled up mat in the high school’s old gymnasium.

Sheriff’s investigators and an autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation ruled his death was due to “positional asphyxia” from his body being upside down for an extended time after he became trapped in the mat while trying to retrieve a gym shoe.

A second autopsy six months after his death by a private pathologist hired by the Johnson family determined he was the victim of blunt force trauma to the neck.

Concern over the details of the youth’s death resulted in U.S. Attorney Michael Moore and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announcing they would review the evidence in the case and try to determine if Johnson’s death was accidental or due to criminal activity.

The Johnson family has been in Atlanta since Sunday and spoke to the press after church services for their son at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. Jacquelyn Johnson, Kendrick’s mother, said she was not there to make accusations but to call for an investigation into her son’s mysterious death.

“I’m asking everybody to stand with us as we fight this fight to get the truth for my son,” she said.