VALDOSTA, Ga. — The sheriff at the center of the Kendrick Johnson death case says his department has gone through the evidence extensively and found no crime.
Johnson’s mother told Channel 2′s Tony Thomas that she’s not surprised by the findings.
Jaqueline Johnson said she doesn’t trust local authorities and wants federal investigators to take another look at what happened to her son here nine years ago.
The sheriff says case closed – again – but he will reopen it if someone brings him verified new information.
“You do not believe there was anything criminal?” Thomas asked Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk.
“I do not,” Paulk said.
“This is a very unusual accident. But still an accident?” Thomas asked Paulk.
“Yeah,” Paulk said.
Paulk said his review of the extensive FBI investigation, 17 boxes worth of evidence and his own look at the 2013 death of Johnson has come to the same conclusion.
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“The truth is the truth,” Paulk said.
The sheriff released a 16-page summary of his investigation on Wednesday including pictures from the Lowndes County gym.
Video shows Johnson walking into and then through the gym on January 10, 2013.
The next day, a teacher found his body inside one of the rolled-up wrestling mats.
Authorities say it appears he was trying to reach for a shoe he had left inside the mat before winter break, got stuck and died.
“We already knew that nothing was going to be done on your watch. This is how you roll in Valdosta,” Jackie Johnson said.
His parents believe Kendrick was murdered.
Jackie Johnson told Thomas moments after the sheriff released his findings that she’ll continue to ask the Department of Justice to reopen its investigation.
“You didn’t find nothing in 17 boxes? That’s the craziest lie you could have told. We already knew what team you were on. You are not on the team of righteousness,” Jackie Johnson said.
The Johnsons have a GoFundMe account open to hire a private investigator to look into what they say is new evidence.
They won’t publicly say what that new info is.
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