Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

September 6, 2013

U.S. Justice Department: no civil rights violation in Johnson death

VALDOSTA — The U.S. Justice Department has decided not to move forward with a civil rights investigation into the death of a Lowndes High student found dead in the school’s old gymnasium earlier this year, according to an agency spokesperson Thursday.

The statement follows the release of an independent autopsy this week into Kendrick “KJ” Johnson’s death; sponsored by the Johnson family and supporters, the second autopsy was conducted by Dr. William R. Anderson, a pathologist with Forensic Dimensions in Heathrow, Fla.

The Criminal Division of the Justice Department acknowledged that the victim’s family and community members have concerns regarding Johnson’s death, but did not find “sufficient indication of a civil rights violation” to initiate a civil rights investigation, according to the agency spokesperson.

“We obtained the state investigative file from United States Attorney Michael Moore, of the Middle District of Georgia, who referred the matter to the Civil Rights Division for review. We reviewed the investigative file and carefully considered whether the allegations involve a prosecutable violation of federal criminal civil rights statutes,” according to a DOJ spokesperson.

The Department of Justice said it will continue to monitor and evaluate the matter, including the second autopsy report, in cooperation with U.S. Attorney Moore, who has said his office is reviewing the case but has initiated no formal investigation into the student’s death.

The second autopsy performed by Anderson directly contradicted the initial autopsy conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The GBI concluded that the death was accidental as a result of positional asphyxia after Johnson fell into a rolled wrestling mat head first and became stuck.

Anderson’s findings stated that Johnson’s death was a result of “unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma, right neck, involving right mandible, and soft tissues, including the area of the carotid body, consistent with inflicted injury.”

Autopsy results released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on May 2 states “no significant injuries” were shown in an x-ray of Johnson’s head and post-mortem examination.

Anderson has previously contradicted an official finding with a similar conclusion. According to a 2004 Orlando Sentinel

article, Anderson, a former

pathologist with the

Orange-Osceola morgue in Florida, joined two other colleagues questioning the official cause of a 1998 death of a Rollins College student.

The chief medical examiner at the time ruled the death as a result of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. Anderson reviewed the records and concluded that the death was due to “blunt-force trauma to the neck,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.

At the time of the article, all three pathologists were no longer with the morgue. Anderson resigned his position in a dispute over work related issues, a second pathologist was fired, and the third retired after the State Medical Examiner’s Commission ordered him to stop performing autopsies due to repeated errors, according to the Sentinel.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 140422-Dan_Keplinger003.jpg The Art of Determination

    Artist Dan Keplinger invests passion into his frenetic pieces. His line work teems with energy. An unexpected trait in the often technically precise medium of printmaking.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • 140422-RibbonCutting.jpg Learning center named in Horne’s honor

    Noting his lengthy legacy in educating the region's young people, Valdosta City Schools officially renamed the Pinevale Learning Center Tuesday in honor of the late Maceo A. Horne Jr.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rose: Dismiss ‘Quitman 11’ case

    Following the second mistrial in the case of a Brooks County woman accused of voter fraud, a local civil rights leader has called for the issue to be dismissed, but prosecutors plan to seek prosecution for a third time.

    April 23, 2014

  • Lawsuit challenging Ga. gay marriage ban filed

    A gay rights group filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday challenging Georgia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

    April 23, 2014

  • Commission denies City’s annexation request

    Lowndes County received an annexation request from the City of Hahira for five parcels of land that spanned approximately 66 acres, for the purpose of future development, and because the applicant sought city water and sewer.

    April 23, 2014

  • Confederate Memorial Day observed this weekend

    The United Daughters of the Confederacy, Valdosta Chapter 471, will observe Confederate Memorial Day, 10 a.m. Saturday, April 26, at Sunset Hill Cemetery.

    April 23, 2014

  • connell book review.jpg Literary Guild hears Fannie Flagg’s latest

    “Reading for fun is great, but learning while reading is super,” Sandra Connell told the Literary Guild at the April meeting.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Performance index tops Lowndes school board meeting

    Lowndes County Board of Education celebrated the results of the College and Career Readiness Performance Index scores during its regular session Monday night.

    April 23, 2014

  • N1401P14008C.TIF Sheriff hosts Prescription Take-Back Day

    The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office will collect unused medications this Saturday as a part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140421 - flooding Shiloh Rd B#1.jpg Road re-opens following flooding

    Lowndes County officials re-opened one road Monday while keeping an eye on the area’s waterways for potential flooding.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results