Family of Georgia teen found dead in gym mat file $1B federal lawsuit

His family filed a $1 billion lawsuit.
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 6:44 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2023 at 7:51 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - It’s been more than 10 years since teenager Kendrick Johnson was found dead inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in the gym of a south Georgia high school.

It was a story that made national headlines and today, the mystery surrounding his death continues.

On Tuesday, Johnson’s parents took new action at the federal courthouse in Atlanta to file a response to Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk’s investigation that his office performed last year. They filed a new lawsuit naming the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as well as the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.

The Johnsons filed a $1 billion lawsuit.

Johnson was 17 years old in 2013 when his body was found rolled up in a wrestling mat at Lowndes High School. The death was ruled an accident, even after Paulk took a second look at the case in 2022. But Johnson’s parents have never accepted those findings, saying the evidence doesn’t support it.

Johnson’s parents say they are not convinced because of inconsistencies and the way their son’s body was handled. They say investigators need to look at evidence from a third autopsy.

“Read the third autopsy report. Don’t take my word for it. Read the third autopsy report. It doesn’t state what he said,” Kenneth Johnson, Kendrick’s father, said.

RELATED: The Kendrick Johnson Case: A timeline of events

Said Paulk: “From the documents I’ve read and the investigation I’ve seen, I feel 100% sure there was no foul play. It’s a terrible accident, in my opinion.”

A decade later, the Johnsons maintain that their son was killed, and they have vowed to take this fight all the way to the Supreme Court if they feel they have to.

The defendants have 21 days to respond to the lawsuit.