The family of Kendrick Johnson, the Valdosta, Georgia teenager who was found dead in a rolled-up high school gym mat in January. has spent the last week reviewing surveillance video that was released by court order. And what they've seen raises a lot of questions to add to the myriad that already exist about how Kendrick really died.
For instance, in one image, a man seen walking away from the gym in what appears to be an image captured late at night suddenly disappears from a series of images shot by a motion-activated camera. Other images shot at other times capture people walking in that same location, attorney Chevene King said.Both the Lowndes County sheriff and Lowndes County Schools officials deny the video was tampered with before they got it. Still, King is concerned enough that she has demanded that authorities turn over the original footage, with time codes and other evidence, in order to find out if someone altered the video.
In another example, King showed reporters images from a camera that he said should have shown the place where authorities say Kendrick fell into a gym mat and suffocated while trying to retrieve a sneaker. The image was blurry and out of position, he said.
While stopping short of directly accusing authorities of deliberately tampering with the evidence, King said problems with the surveillance are only the latest in a series of oddities that have drawn national attention to Kendrick's death. His bloody body was found rolled up in a gym mat at Lowndes High School on January 11.
Last night, Anderson Cooper discussed the video with the leader of the Johnsons' legal team, Benjamin Crump--best known as the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family--and Mark Geragos. Watch here.
This case seems to get more sordid by the minute. For those who don't know, Kendrick's death was officially ruled an accident. The medical examiner found that he'd suffocated after falling into the mat. However, EMTs who examined Kendrick's body found evidence of blunt-force trauma to the neck, but it wasn't mentioned in the state examiner's report. A second autopsy paid for by the Johnsons suggested that Kendrick had actually died from a blow to the neck.
Additionally, the scene was an absolute bloodbath. When CNN showed previously released video and about 700 pictures to former FBI agent Harold Copus, he concluded that Kendrick was murdered. To add insult to injury, the pathologist who conducted the second autopsy found that several organs had been removed prior to Kendrick's burial, and the cavities stuffed with newspaper.
Enough about this case stinks that the area U.S. Attorney is conducting a review of the case. Earlier today, a judge announced that depending on the results of that review, he may order a coroner's inquest. We already know enough now, though, that heads need to roll.