The Times conducted an email interview this week with Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine regarding the Kendrick Johnson case.
While the sheriff openly discussed this case with The Times in May following the release of the state’s autopsy that showed the Lowndes County student’s death to be accidental, Prine agreed to the following Q&A session.
THE TIMES: Have you considered requesting the Department of Justice to come in to have a look at the Kendrick Johnson case? Why or why not?
PRINE: “No. A complete copy of the investigative case file was forwarded to United States Attorney Michael Moore immediately after the case was closed. That investigative file is a complete accounting of the work effort that was conducted during this investigation. I would welcome an independent review of this case by the Department of Justice.”
THE TIMES: What was your thinking behind ruling the death as accidental the day the body was found? If not, what was your reason?
PRINE: “On Jan. 11, 2013, it was explained to the Johnson family that based on the investigative findings known at that point, his death ‘appeared to be accidental’ but the investigation would continue and investigators would know more after the completion of an autopsy. I felt it was important for the Johnson family and the public to be assured that although a tragedy had occurred, nothing so far had been found to indicate that any other student was in danger. This in no way was an indication the case was being closed or that an investigation would not be conducted.
“Investigators immediately began conducting interviews and examining physical evidence in an attempt to learn what exactly had taken place. This investigation continued until May when the case was closed. Much of what was learned was not released to the public, as with any other investigation, in order to protect the integrity of the investigation and be able to provide a complete and thorough accounting of what took place.”