Kendrick Johnson Documentary Re-Ignites Calls for Justice

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Tina Samepay

Kendrick Johnson’s mother and family recently joined actress Jennifer Lewis and Director Jason Pollock at the Los Angeles premiere of Finding Kendrick Johnson. The screening was held at the Leammle Theatre in North Hollywood during the documentary’s seven night L.A run. 

Lewis, who is co-producer and narrator of the film, held a small rally outside the theatre before the screening. The 64-year-old actress has called the documentary ‘some of the most important work she has done in Hollywood.’ 

She says she was moved to help tell Johnson’s story due to the fact his organs were removed, and his family received little answers into his cause of death. 

“Do you know how hard it is, to come this far in this country and then have to watch them just, kill our kids?” Lewis said outside the Leammle Theatre. 

“We are going to get justice for the Johnson family.”

In March, Valdosta Sheriff Ashley Paulk reopened Johnson’s case–a silver-lining for his family who have been fighting over 8 years to receive justice and answers.

Lewis’ powerful voice guides us through the nearly 4-year private investigation into the mysterious death of 17-year-old Johnson. Johnson was found rolled inside a mat in Valdosta High School’s gym Jan 2017, the day after he was reported missing by his parents. His death was ruled accidental by school and police officials. 

Kendrick’s parents hired their own forensic pathologist, whose findings contradicted the original autopsy report that Johnson died due to accidental positional asphyxiation. 

The independent autopsy report determined instead that Johnson died by blunt force trauma.

“I care about them killing our children so I will be in the streets. I will be doing whatever I can do for the Johnson family. Are we clear?” Lewis said during the rally. 

Jaqueline Johnson, Kendrick Johnson’s mother, says she stands on the grounds that her son was murdered, and no one can change her mind. 

“No matter how hard they try, you know your child. I raised him for the 17 good years that God gave him to me, so I am going to stand up for that child because I am his voice now,” Jaqueline Johnson shared.

Johnson’s mother is particularly focused on elements of the documentary that really grasp what she refers to as a cover-up in her son’s death. This includes unredacted police files and video frames, which were cut out of school surveillance videos in the gym where Johnson was found. 

These videos and frame notes show Johnson walking almost side-by-side with a Valdosta High School student, who initially claimed to be in class or away from campus that day on a sports trip. 

The Johnson’s have continued to name this student as a top suspect in their son’s death, because he was involved in a fight with Johnson prior to him being found inside the school’s gym. 

These frames and files were kept hidden from homicide detective Mitch Credle, who investigated Johnson’s case for the U.S. Attorney’s office. The documentary shows Credle at a loss for words when presented with the information. 

“You’re one of the lead investigators on the case. so that lets you know right there, that if they want to cover something up, they can hide it from their own people,” Mrs. Johnson said.

Pollock says although they have received considerable media coverage, there are still Georgia outlets that continue to suppress evidence, due to their refusal to cover new details in Johnson’s case.

“Our film shows Johnson’s case was completely misreported. This is evidence that anyone could have found. Not only did they not look into it, now that the information is out–they are ignoring it,” Pollock shared.

The documentary is distributed by Gravitas Ventures and names Girls Trip Malcolm D. Lee along with Hill Harper, Elizabeth Hurwitz and Dia Sokol among producers. Finding Kendrick Johnson is also available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.


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