Written by Shane Thomas
Protesters and family members gathered at the Lowndes County Courthouse on Tuesday and Wednesday to bring awareness to the case involving the death of 17-year- old Kendrick Johnson.
Johnson was found dead in a gymnasium at Lowndes High School in January.
Three months after investigators ruled that Johnson’s death was not an act of foul play, many believe that the cause of death should be explored further.
Chris Prine, Lowndes County Sherriff, stands by his investigators’ ruling, citing that there has not been any new information on the case.
“We have not gotten anything back officially at this time,” Prine said. “But, [investigators] have found no signs of foul play whatsoever.”
During the downtown rally, protesters were seen holding before and after photos of Johnson, chanting “Justice for Johnson.”
“We want answers,” Johnson’s aunt, Lydia Tooley-Whitlock, said. “We want to know who did this and we want them to be punished.”
Prine believes that the case has been well-handled to this point, due in large part to the adherence to proper protocol during the process.
“Any time there is a death like this, we always work it like it is a homicide until the evidence proves otherwise,” Prine said.
Johnson’s family and other members of the community have been calling for an additional autopsy to be performed.
“[Investigators] say he fell in a mat,” Johnson’s father, Kendrick Johnson Sr., said. “The pictures show clearly that he didn’t fall on a mat, he was murdered.”
According to Prine, no bruises or abrasions were found on Johnson’s body during the autopsy.
The photo in question shows a scar on Johnson’s forehead. Prine maintains that the scar was from an incision made during the autopsy and not at the scene.
The family, however, continues to speculate foul play was involved. Prine sympathizes with family members, but maintains that the autopsy process has not been tainted.
“My heart and prayers go out to the family,” Prine said. “We’ve attempted to talk with [Johnson’s father], but no matter what, he is bound and determined to prove that his son was murdered. The evidence is not there—there was no foul play there.”
“If it were me in that mat, [investigators] would have worked the scene the same way they worked with this young man.”