The family of Kendrick Johnson, the Georgia teen who was found rolled up in a gym mat in January 2013, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against school officials claiming their lack of action led to his death at the hands of another student.
Earlier this year, his parents filed a negligence lawsuit against the school district. That lawsuit claimed the district was negligent and violated the 17-year-old’s constitutional right to equal protection based on race.
The new lawsuit accuses the Lowndes County Board of Education, its superintendent and the high school principal of ignoring reports that Johnson was repeatedly attacked and harassed by a white student.
“As a direct result of and proximate result of defendants’ aforesaid actions and omissions, on or about January 10, 2013, Kendrick Lamar Johnson was violently assaulted, severely injured, suffered great physical pain and mental anguish, and subjected to insult and loss of life, all of which took place at the hands of one or more students while on the property of Lowndes High School and during its normal hours of operations,” the lawsuit said.
Kendrick’s parents say the school officials knew about an earlier attack on Johnson by a white student that occurred during a school bus trip.
The other student “had a history of provoking and attacking” Johnson at school, the lawsuit said.
The complaint continues:
Johnson was “victimized” again “in the presence of the coaching staff and employees” of the school again after his mother complained about the attacks, the suit said.
After Johnson was “improperly accused and blamed for instigating” a school bus fight, school officials refused to let his mother see the bus surveillance video, the filing said.
Johnson was “subjected to undeserved punishment, humiliation and various forms of mistreatment by members of the coaching staff” of the football program, leading to his decision to quit the football team, the suit said.
The older brother of the student who attacked Johnson confronted him and told him “it ain’t over,” the lawsuit said.
School officials failed to interview Johnson or any friends who witnessed the attacks.
“This failure to act despite actual knowledge that Kendrick Lamar Johnson was being harassed departed from the defendant Lowndes County School System’s own established procedures dealing with harassment and mistreatment, including racial discrimination,” the suit said.
If you recall, investigators with the Sheriff’s Office ruled Kendrick’s death accidental, saying the teen climbed into the gym mat to reach for a shoe, got stuck, and died of asphyxiation. Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, however, believe that their son was beaten to death. A second autopsy commissioned by the family found “unexplained apparent nonaccidental blunt force trauma” to the teen’s neck and concluded the death was a homicide.
In October 2013, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia launched a federal investigation into the case.
SOURCE: CNN | PHOTO CREDIT: Handout