The Department of Justice announced on Monday there will be no charges filed concerning the death of Kendrick Johnson, a 17-year-old Georgia teen found rolled up in a gym mat, WCTV reports. Feds say they found “insufficient evidence to support federal criminal charges,” in a press statement released to the public.
Johnson’s family was informed of the ruling prior to the official announcement, according to WXIA.
The DOJ further stated:
“The Department of Justice, in particular the lawyers and investigators who have worked tirelessly on this investigation, express their most sincere condolences to Kendrick Johnson’s parents, family, and friends. We cannot imagine the pain of their loss, or the depths of their sorrow. We regret that we were unable to provide them with more definitive answers about Kendrick’s tragic death.”
Johnson’s body was found in Valdosta, Georgia, inside Lowndes High School in January of 2013. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation ruled Johnson suffocated inside the gym mat and that his death was caused after he fell in the mat to retrieve a shoe. His family, however, believed he was the victim of a heinous crime.
His parents had his body exhumed and hired a pathologist to perform a second autopsy.
A medical examiner said Johnson’s death was the result of a homicide with evidence of “blunt force trauma to the right side of Kendrick’s neck, near the jaw.” The second autopsy found hemorrhaging near the jawline not detected in the initial autopsy by local investigators, according to CNN.
Michael Moore, a U.S. attorney based in Macon, launched an investigation into Johnson’s death in October of 2013. After Moore stepped down from his position, the case was passed to federal prosecutors in Ohio.
Johnson’s family filed a $100 million wrongful death suit shortly after the 17-year-old’s death. It names 39 defendants, including Brian Bell – Johnson’s football teammate – Bell’s brother and father, as well as law enforcement and state officials who the family says are covering up a crime. The suit alleges Bell, who is white, held a grudge against Johnson, who was black, after a fight on a team bus in 2011.
They dropped the lawsuit but a family spokesman said they plans to re-file their wrongful death suit against Bell as soon as the federal investigation is complete. They have a six-month grace period to re-file the suit.