NAACP Will Call on Justice Department to Investigate Valdosta Teen's Death

Oct 17, 2013

The Georgia State Conference of the NAACP says it plans to call on the U.S. Justice department to investigate the death of a Valdosta teen who was discovered inside a rolled up wrestling mat at his high school in January.

Investigators ruled 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson's death accidental, concluding Johnson fell into the gym mat, became trapped and couldn’t breathe. But Johnson’s parents believe he was murdered and unsuccessfully called on the Justice Department and investigators to further examine the case.

Last week, the teen’s parents told the news media during a second autopsy, a private pathologist discovered Johnson’s organs were missing and newspaper was used to replace them. The pathologist also concluded Johnson died after sustaining what appears to be “non-accidental” blunt force trauma.”

Georgia NAACP president Francys Johnson says his organization has spoken with the teen’s parents and is closely monitoring the case. He says Johnson’s death warrants an examination by the Justice Department.

Credit NAACP

“What I’m worried about is a growing callousness and disregard for the life of African Americans, and so this case has been closed by the officials in Valdosta. The work of the NAACP will see that it is not closed.”

Johnson says the organization is not on a witch hunt but is searching for the truth regarding the teen’s death.

“It behooves those of goodwill and decency to continue to explore until the truth is found.”

The GBI continues to stand by the initial autopsy of Johnson, which ruled Johnson’s death accidental. A spokesperson for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation also says it returned Johnson’s organs to his body following his initial autopsy.  

Meanwhile, the attorney representing the Harrington funeral home claims the funeral home did not dispose of Johnson’s organs.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office is investigating the matter.