DOJ Declines to File Charges in Gym Mat Death of Kendrick Johnson

Photo by AP Photo/David Goldman
The 17-year-old's body was found trapped in an oversized mat that was rolled up in his school gym.

The Department of Justice has closed the case in the tragic 2013 death of Kendrick Johnson, a Georgie teen whose body was found inside of a rolled-up gym mat at his high school.

CBS News reports that Johnson’s parents suspect that the 17-year-old was murdered, but US attorneys say that there is no evidence to support those claims.

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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,” the Department of Justice said in a statement. “Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed without the filing of federal criminal charges.”

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Johnson’s body was found on January 11, 2013, one day after investigators say that teen became trapped inside of an upright gym mat while searching for his tennis shoe. A medical coroner says he fell at an angle that caused positional asphyxia. 

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After the teen’s burial, his family hired attorneys and a private pathologist, who exhumed the body and said that Johnson experienced “non-accidental” hemorrhaging as well as a fatal blow. Additionally, Johnson’s internal organs were missing, and his body was stuffed with newspaper (a coroner says that after the autopsy, the boy’s organs were too decomposed to place back in the body).

The family has not yet responded to the Department of Justice’s ruling. 

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