The family and friends of Kendrick Johnson are waiting to see if a second autopsy confirms a Lowndes County, Ga. medical examiner’s finding six months ago that the 17-year-old, whose body was found rolled inside a gym mat, died of positional asphyxia.

A second autopsy was conducted after the body was exhumed June 14 to address skepticism about county officials’ assertion that the two-sport athlete died in January trying to reach a pair of tennis shoes at the bottom of a rolled-up wrestling mat when he became pinned head-first and perpendicular to the ground.

“My K.J was murdered and his killers and the people that help cover up for these monsters are still free,” said mother, Jackie Johnson, from a personal Facebook page that seems to be dedicated to her late son. “How can we, The Johnson Family, and friends begin to heal when we can’t begin to grieve the murder of Kendrick ‘K.J.’ Johnson?”

Authorities in the South Georgia county say the death of the high school football and basketball player was accidental.

“There was an autopsy performed and it was determined that this was an accident- we have obtained no information contrary to that,” Lt. Stryde Jones, of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, told the AFRO. “If anyone has additional information we are open to listening and examining what is brought to us.”

Jones said that the death was highly unusual, the first he could remember that involved a dead body at a county high school.

“There were no witnesses, so we can only surmise- but the information that we have obtained from interviews shows that he stored his shoes in there and probably went in there to get them out. Unfortunately- and very sadly, he was unsuccessful.”

Johnson’s body was found early in the school day on Jan. 11 at Lowndes High School.

Since then, there have been multiple protests and rallies held by the family and organized in conjunction with the NAACP Georgia State Conference and the National Action Network.

Family members believe that Johnson was murdered and a sloppy investigation was conducted in the hours after his death.

When asked why Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson was called six hours after Johnson’s body was found, instead of immediately according to Georgia law, it was indicated that a professional investigation was conducted.

In June a judge granted permission for the Johnson family to exhume the 17-year old’s body for a second autopsy, one they hope will give more answers.

Family attorney Chevene King Jr. did not respond to interview requests.

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Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer