Attorneys call for video, inquest in Johnson death

Published: Oct. 22, 2013 at 4:16 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2013 at 9:22 PM EDT
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Kendrick Johnson
Kendrick Johnson

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Attorneys for the family of Kendrick Johnson are now calling for a coroner's inquest into the death of the 17-year-old Lowndes High student, whose body was found in a rolled up gym mat in January.

And his family doesn't accept the investigators ruling that the death was an accident.

Attorneys for the family of Kendrick Johnson entered the Lowndes County courthouse where they filed a petition for a coroner's inquest calling for more answers into the 17-year-old's death.

"Whereby jurors can decide whether Kendrick Johnson died as a result of an accident or whether it was the result of a homicide," said the Johnson family attorney Chevene B. King, Jr.

It's the latest in a series of legal moves to prove just that. In June, Johnsons' body was exhumed. A second autopsy then concluded his death appeared to have been no accident. But what this inquest would essentially provide is access to surveillance video inside the old Lowndes High gymnasium. Access attorneys say the family has been denied.

"We absolutely believe somebody has already reviewed that video tape and for whatever reason, they do not want this family to view that video tape," said the Johnson family's other attorney Benjamin Crump.

Right now the only video released to the public shows Johnson walking into the gym. Just seven frames from one of what the Johnson's attorneys say are four cameras in operation.

"There is however one of these cameras that's aimed in the corner where Kendrick Johnson's body was discovered. If that camera was at all operational which we have no reason to believe it wasn't, we think we would have been advised at such at this time," Crump said. "If the sheriff's investigation is correct and he climbed into the wrestling mat, then we will see it with our own eyes."

"Whatever it takes, how long like takes, we're here and we're going to stay," said his father, Kenneth Johnson.

Now 10 months later if there is video, what will it show? That awaits a judge's decision.

The school system refuses to release the video saying its part of academic record and they cannot show the faces of students on the video.  Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson says he's waiting for a judge to decide whether he should lead an inquest.

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