Police suppressed coroner’s report criticizing police investigation in Kendrick Johnson death

November 8, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

Good afternoon:

Victor Blackwell of CNN reported late last night that the original Coroner’s report regarding Kendrick Johnson’s death was extremely critical of the police investigation. In his January 22nd report, Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson wrote:

“I was not notifedi n (sic) this death until 15:45 hours. The investigative climate was very poor to worse when I arrived on the scene. The body had been noticably (sic) moved. The scene had been compromised and there was no cooperation from law enforcement at the scene. Furthermore the integrity of the evidence bag was compromised on January 13, 2013 by opening the sealed bag and exhibiting the dead body to his father.”

“I do not approve of the manner this case was handled. Not only was the scene compromised, the body was moved. The integrrety (sic) was breached by opening a sealed body bag, information necessary for my lawful investigation was withheld.”

Blackwell received a copy of this report recently from the coroner’s office in response to a public records request.

In May he was provided with a different version of this report by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office. The critical language in the original was omitted and the report was not signed or dated.

Neither the sheriff nor the coroner will answer questions about the two reports.

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Coroner’s inquest demanded in Kendrick Johnson case

October 22, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Good afternoon:

We have a new development in the Kendrick Johnson case.

On behalf of Kendrick’s parents, Benjamin Crump is requesting a coroner’s inquest.

USA Today has the story:

The parents of Kendrick Johnson, the student-athlete found dead in a rolled-up gym mat, are petitioning a Georgia judge to order a coroner’s inquest into their son’s death, the couple’s lawyer said Tuesday.

Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson believe the surveillance video taken inside the Lowndes High School gym will show what happened to their son. So far, only a short clip of the video has been made public.

/snip

Crump said he believes the findings of an inquest would support the family’s belief that Johnson’s death was a homicide.

In a press conference Tuesday, lawyers said there are at least four video cameras in the gymnasium, one of which was aimed toward the corner where Kendrick’s body was found.

Officials have said they must wait for consent from other minors in the video before they can release it.

The U.S. attorney’s office has the video and is reviewing the case.

Georgia Statute § 45-16-27 (a)(1)(C) authorizes the Coroner of Lowndes County to conduct an inquest before a jury into Kendrick’s cause of death even though the Medical Examiner at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation determined that the cause of death was accidental due to positional asphyxiation.

This is a very interesting move that I fully support. Early on in the investigation, the Lowndes County Coroner protested the Sheriff’s failure to notify him immediately about the discovery of Kendrick’s body, which is required by law.


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