No Charges Will Be Filed In Death Of Teen Found Dead In Rolled Up Gym Mat, Police Say

Tara West - Author

Jun. 21 2016, Updated 10:04 a.m. ET

Police have ruled that 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson’s death was an accident and not the result of foul play. The Department of Justice has revealed that no charges will be filed in the mysterious death of Johnson, who was found deceased in a rolled-up gym mat at Lowndes High School on January 11, 2013. However, Kendrick’s family insists that someone killed their son and that the police were negligent in their investigation.

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The Daily Mail reports that police will not be filing charges related to the mysterious death of Kendrick Johnson. The teen was found dead inside of a rolled up gym mat at the Georgia high school. The Department of Justice announced on Monday that no charges would be filed and ruled that the death was accidental. According to the DOJ, Kendrick Johnson’s death resulted from a freak fall into the gym mat, which left him unable to breathe.

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The report details that Kendrick likely dropped a shoe into the mat and leaned over the mat to retrieve the shoe. However, as he reached for the shoe, investigators believe he fell into the mat and got stuck upside down. Unable to get out of the mat, the teen reportedly suffocated. The medical examiner agreed with the DOJ ruling noting that the teen died from suffocation which resulted from falling into the mat upside down.

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“After extensive investigation into this tragic event, federal investigators determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone or some group of people willfully violated Kendrick Johnson’s civil rights or committed any other prosecutable federal crime. Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed without the filing of federal criminal charges.”

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Though the local authorities and federal DOJ both agree that the death was a freak accident, Kendrick’s parents refuse to agree with the ruling and say someone must have killed their son. In fact, just four months after Kendrick’s death, local authorities ruled that the death was the result of an accident. However, the teen’s parents claimed that the investigation was not thorough enough, and got a court order to exhume their son’s body for a second autopsy.

The family’s private pathologist reported that he found evidence of hemorrhaging beneath the skin of Kendrick’s jaw and neck, which would not have resulted from the fall. The pathologist concluded that the fatal blow occurred near his carotid artery that it appeared to be “non-accidental.” The report was used to reopen the case, and the federal Department of Justice began their own investigation.

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Other “issues” in the investigation which have left many puzzled by the mysterious death is the lack of evidence in the case. According to the school, there are multiple motion-activated cameras in the gym. However, at the time of Kendrick’s death, none of the cameras captured the moment that the teen fell into the mat. Therefore, conspiracy theories have run rampant about the teen’s demise.

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However, police not that the mats were likely too far away from the camera to activate the motion sensors and that the only person seen entering the gymnasium was Kendrick. Video captured of the teen shows him casually strolling into the gym without any appearance of distress. The lack of concern by the teen coupled with the fact that cameras did not capture anyone else entering the gym have held solidify the Department of Justice’s case that the teen’s death was completely accidental.

The DOJ did criticize the local authorities for failing to call a coroner until six hours after the teen’s body was found. However, they noted that there was still no evidence of foul play and have finalized their ruling that the gym mat death was freak accident. Despite the more thorough investigation by the DOJ, the family is still unwilling to accept the fact that their son died from an accident and are convinced that someone killed their son.

What do you think about the DOJ and local authorities ruling that Kendrick Johnson’s freak gym mat death was an accident?

[Photo by David Goldman/AP Photo]


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