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kendrick johnson

Blurry images, cut footage, no time stamps.

When footage of Kendrick Johnson in a Georgia school gym just moments before his death was released to his family, they knew something was wrong. Now, a video expert is confirming that the “raw feed” Lowndes County Schools released is “highly suspicious” and was most likely tampered with.

Rather than showing how their 17-year-old son’s body ended up in a rolled-up gym mat back in January, the four cameras inside the Valdosta, Georgia gym is a collection of cut videos and blurry images of the gym mats.

Compounding the family’s suspicions was the nature of the gym videos. They’re jumpy, with students intermittently appearing and vanishing, and they bear no obvious timestamps.

The Johnsons’ attorneys were not shy in stating their suspicion that someone could have tampered with the videos.

“They know their child did not climb into a wrestling mat, get stuck and die. Where is that video?” attorney Benjamin Crump asked.

Attorney Chevene King questioned why time codes weren’t shown in the videos.

“We don’t have any time code with which to synchronize the events that are shown in the video. … Either the cameras did this on their own or a human being interacted to make these cameras do these things,” King said.

Crump further said the family believes someone “corrupted” the video.

CNN hired forensic video analyst Grant Fredericks to analyze the videos, which amounted to more than 290 hours of material from all 35 cameras inside and outside of the gym. This is what he found:

Fredericks quickly knocked down the Johnsons’ concerns — they’re all easily explained, he said — but his examination raised what could be another mystery: at least an hour of missing video from all four cameras inside the gym.

“Those files are not original files,” Fredericks said. “They’re not something investigators should rely on for the truth of the video.”

“(The surveillance video has) been altered in a number of ways, primarily in image quality and likely in dropped information, information loss,” he said. “There are also a number of files that are corrupted because they’ve not been processed correctly and they’re not playable. I can’t say why they were done that way, but they were not done correctly, and they were not done thoroughly. So we’re missing information.”

Fredericks told CNN he found it “highly suspicious” that an hour of video could be missing, especially considering how the material was acquired by police.

Even more suspicious was the decision to leave it up to the school what they would provide to investigators.

According to an incident report from the Sheriff’s Office, however, a detective watched a portion of the video then asked an information technology officer employed by the school board to produce a “copy of the surveillance video for the entire wing of the school with the old gym for the last 48 hours.”

Five days later, the sheriff’s report says, the IT officer delivered a hard drive to the detective, who verified it contained what he requested.

“Right now, what they’ve done, is they’ve left it up to the school district as to what it is they want to provide to the police, and I think that probably is a mistake,” Fredericks said.

“You don’t want somebody who might be party to the responsibility to make the decision as to what they provide the police.”

A bit odd for an investigation, don’t you think? We’ll keep you updated on the latest.


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