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Family of Georgia High School Student Wants New Inquiry Into Son’s Death

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kendrick johnson

The parents of Kendrick Johnson, the 17-year-old Georgia high school student found dead inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in his school’s gym in January, say they have new evidence showing their son’s death was not an accident.

“When I saw my son’s body and seen the condition he was in and the way he looked, I knew it wasn’t an accident,” Kenneth Johnson, Kendrick’s father, told ABC News.

Johnson’s death inside Lowndes High Schooll in Valdosta, Ga., was ruled an accident by both the original coroner’s report and a state police investigation. Authorities in Georgia said that Johnson had gotten stuck inside the wrestling mat while reaching in to retrieve a shoe. The medical examiner’s report concluded he died from positional asphyxia.

Footage from the high school’s security camera showed Johnson walked into the gym by himself around 1 p.m., on Jan. 10. Johnson’s body was not found until the next morning.

“I went to school that morning because he didn’t come home that night and I know what was unusual for Kendrick not to call or not even come home,” said Jacquelyn Johnson, Kendrick’s mother. “The deputy that was on call…she came up to me and grabbed me and my daughter and hugged her and I asked her, ‘Was it my child?,’ and she said, ‘Yes.'”

The Johnsons remained unconvinced that their son could have died by becoming stuck in the mat, going so far as to posting a picture of Kenneth Johnson himself trying to squeeze into a similar rolled-up mat.

In May, the Johnsons received permission to exhume their son’s body and hired their own private medical examiner, Dr. William R. Anderson, to conduct a second autopsy.

Anderson’s four-page autopsy report, released in August, shows that Johnson died from a blow to the right side of his neck that appeared to be “non-accidental.”

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