Trayvon Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump has announced that he’s joining the fight to reopen an investigation into the death of a south Georgia teenager whose death was ruled accidental by local authorities. The body of Kendrick Johnson, 17, was found on January 17 inside a rolled-up wrestling mat at the gym of his high school in Valdosta.
Lowndes County sheriff’s investigators concluded that Johnson died in a freak accident by falling headfirst into an upright mat after trying to retrieve a sneaker inside the mat. However, a second autopsy ordered by the teen’s parents concluded that Johnson died from blunt force trauma to his neck, suggesting foul play.
Crump told WSB-TV that Johnson’s parents contacted him seeking help.
Now the family has enlisted the help of Tallahassee, Fla.-based attorney Benjamin Crump. Best known as the lawyer who helped focus national attention on the February 2012 shooting death of Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, Crump has pursued several civil rights cases against law enforcement agencies. He said Johnson’s parents came to him seeking help.
Johnson’s family previously asked the Justice Department for assistance, but the Justice Department found insufficient evidence to support an investigation. U.S. Attorney Michael Moore in Macon has been monitoring the case but hasn’t announced whether he’ll take any further action.
Crump said the Johnson family’s legal team plans to focus on getting the official manner of Johnson’s death changed from accidental to homicide.