The United States Department of Justice has announced that it has opened a formal review of the death of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson on Thursday.
Johnson was found rolled up in a wrestling mat at his Georgia high school in January.
The death was ruled an accident by police, who said that Johnson died from asphyxiation as he reached for a shoe. But his family has always urged authorities to look deeper into the case.
Benjamin Crump is representing the family in the investigation.
The family commissioned a private autopsy that said “unexplained, apparent nonaccidental blunt force trauma” killed him. Mr. Crump, who has also represented the family of Trayvon Martin, said the Johnsons were pleased that the Justice Department had chosen to intervene. In deciding to investigate, Michael J. Moore, the United States attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, said, “There are several questions that must be answered or confirmed,” including whether criminal misconduct was involved.
The sheriff’s office in Lowndes County was ordered to provide records of its investigation of the incident to Johnson’s parents. Sheriff Chris Prine defended his department’s handling of the investigation, and welcomed a review from the Department of Justice.
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