‘Finding Kendrick Johnson’ Sheds Light on the Mysterious Death of a Black Teenager
The documentary suggests a cover-up in the death of 17-year-old student found wrapped in a school wrestling mat
As a Black man in America, having faith in the police is like closing your eyes and holding out one hand for a pot of gold and another for a pile of shit. Open those palms wide and there’s no question which one will fill up first.
There’s no reason for me to trust law enforcement when it comes to the matter of Black lives. Yet that doesn’t make the atrocious details of Kendrick Johnson’s unsolved 2013 death — and its shady investigation — any easier to stomach. I got an in-depth look at the 17-year-old high school student’s mysterious death via Jason Pollock’s documentary Finding Kendrick Johnson (released this summer), which details various failures of the systems tasked with finding justice for yet another Black boy gone too soon.
In January 2013, Johnson was found dead in a rolled-up wrestling mat at Lowndes County High School in Valdosta, GA. That same year, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) ruled Johnson’s death an accident, determining that he slipped while reaching for his shoe, got stuck in the gym mat, and suffocated.
Johnson’s family, however, believes he was murdered. They hired Dr. William Anderson to conduct another autopsy. Dr. Anderson, who has more than 40 years of experience in general and forensic pathology, believed Johnson’s injuries weren’t consistent with an accidental death. He felt the injuries were due to an “unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt-force trauma to the neck.”
The suspect investigative work that is likely to blame for the failure to solve Johnson’s death is a reminder of how deep White supremacy is ingrained in America’s institutions.
An FBI investigation into the case named Brian and Branden Bell as people of interest. The two brothers, both Caucasian, have said they were friends with Johnson, but have maintained that they didn’t see Johnson on the day of his death. The Department of Justice continued to…