Valdosta, GA- The parents of Kendrick Johnson have sent a formal request to US Attorney General Eric Holder, asking the Department of Justice to take over the death investigation of the 17-year old.
The letter cites Sheriff Chris Prine’s decision to deem the deal accidental as ‘premature,’ as it was made prior to any autopsy being performed. County Coroner Bill Watson is also quoted in the letter, as he stated that his investigation was ‘100 percent compromised’ by the time he reached the scene at Lowndes High School.
Along with a number of civil rights groups, the parents are urging the Department of Justice to assume the investigation due to ‘concerns about the ‘objectivity and competency of those involved in this investigation,’ including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
They are asking for a speedy reply due to the fact that they believe once school lets out for the summer, potential witnesses could be lost and out of contact.
The full text of the letter can be found below.
A coalition of civil rights organizations, faith-based leaders, students, community groups, and parents standing in solidarity with the family of Mr. Kendrick Johnson, respectfully request that your agency intervene and assume all investigations of the tragic demise of Mr. Kendrick Johnson. There has been public outcry about events leading up to and the subsequent investigation of the death of Mr. Kendrick Johnson.
Our reason for making this demand is primarily two-fold. First, we believe that Sheriff Chris Prine’s official position of calling Mr. Kendrick Johnson’s death an accident one day after his remains were found but prior to an autopsy being completed was premature. To announce to the press such a conclusion so soon after the discovery of Mr. Johnson’s body and to base it upon several highly questionable assumptions, compels us to call into question Sheriff Prine’s accidental death theory.
Secondly, on April 18, 2013 the Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson further discredited the investigation by stating that Sheriff Prine’s investigatory findings were premature and that the scene where the body was discovered had been greatly compromised.
Furthermore, we believe that the absence of information, in combination with what should have been the scale of this investigation, raises serious concerns about the objectivity and competency of those involved in this investigation. Hence, to the extent that this investigation has been at all times been under the control of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, we, once again, are compelled to ask that your agency assume control of this investigation. We further have no confidence in the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and therefore look to the Federal government for relief.
The urgency of the foregoing request is not only based upon the gravity of the matter being investigated, but more importantly, because of the fact that the summer vacation for Lowndes County High students is quickly approaching. Accordingly, the opportunity to have meaningful access to potential witnesses coming from within and amongst the student body and staff will soon be lost. In our opinion, this access is critical and thus a major component of the investigation, particularly since Mr. Kendrick Johnson went missing during school hours and his remains found on the premises of Lowndes County High School.
In short, we cannot delay justice any longer. Justice must come in the form of a full, thorough, and impartial investigation.
We thank you for your prompt consideration and response in this matter.
Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson &
Coalition Partners in Solidarity with Mr. Kendrick L. Johnson