VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - The family of a Lowndes High School student who died at school tonight is demanding a federal investigation.
Today, investigators officially ruled 17-year old Kendrick Johnson's death an accident.
That announcement came just an hour before friends, family and civil rights activists marched outside Lowndes High School demanding justice.
The family believes Johnson was murdered. His body was found inside a rolled-up cheerleading mat in the old Lowndes High School gym January 11th. Investigators believe he was in the gym alone, reached into the mat to get something he dropped, and got stuck. Today's final autopsy report ruled the death an accident as a result of positional asphyxia.
"I'm frustrated that my nephew was supposedly found in a mat, when that doesn't make sense," said Johnson's Aunt, Stacy Roe.
Civil Rights activists with Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network and The United Justice League led the rally, calling for a federal investigation.
"We want an independent investigation, lets just say by an agency with higher credentials than Lowndes County. There's been a number of what we feel are inconsistencies, are mishandlings, and for that very reason is why we want another set of eyes," said Atlanta's National Action Network Chapter President, Marcus Coleman.
The family says they expected the autopsy report would rule the death as an accident. And they plan to keep rallying until federal investigators step in.
"When you have the body that's been moved, when you have the Coroner's Office being notified hours later, when you have the misplacement of his clothing, which could be a direct indicator of any evidence needed to move forward," said Coleman.
Lowndes County Sheriff's officials say the statements of his body being moved and his clothes being misplaced are untrue. But Coroner Bill Waston has voiced his anger that he wasn't notified until hours after Johnson's body was discovered. The Sheriff's office says the investigation still remains open.
The Johnson Family organized another rally Saturday at Serenity Christian Church in Valdosta at 5:00 p.m. Reverend Al Sharpton is scheduled to speak.
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As Lowndes County law enforcement officials today confirmed their belief that Kendrick Johnson died of accidental positional asphyxia, family and friends of the dead teen protest outside the school.
Joined by groups from out of town, the protesters say they want a federal investigation into the death of the Lowndes County High School student who died when he became trapped in a rolled-up athletic mat at the old gymnasium.
The coroner, the sheriff, and the district attorney said after their initial investigation that it appeared that Johnson crawled down into the mat, which was stood up on its end, and could not get out, dying of suffocation.
The family has never believed that explanation, and have kept up a constant drum-beat for what they call "the truth" about Johnson's death.