VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - The spokesperson for the family of Kendrick Johnson said they are feeling hopeful and thankful after the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office announced that it had reopened the case of Kendrick’s death.
The sheriff’s office began looking into case files they recently received in the Kendrick Johnson case.
WALB News 10 was told that 17 evidence boxes came from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and someone was interviewed Monday.
Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said he feels happy to finally have the documents after requesting them a few years ago.
In April 2019, Sheriff Paulk sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, requesting federal investigative files be released. However, a few months later, it was denied.
Recently, Johnson’s family went to Ohio to meet with U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman, where case files were being held.
Marcus Coleman, a spokesperson for the family, asked for the case to be opened on a federal level.
Herdman’s office determined the files needed to be sent to Lowndes County.
Paulk said he received 17 large boxes full of documents recently. He said he’s on a mission to find the truth and is personally reviewing each and every file.
Paulk said that when he ran for sheriff for his fifth term, one of his goals was to look into this case. He was not the sheriff when Kendrick died.
On Friday, Paulk said he met with Kendrick’s parents to hear their concerns and get some key points for unanswered questions they may have.
”All we are seeking is the truth, I’m not saying the truth is not there now, but until you look at everything that everybody has done, I can’t look at you in the eye and say I know the truth,” said Sheriff Paulk.
Paulk said he found something that needed to be clarified, leading to the person being interviewed Monday. He says there’s a lot of materials to be reviewed and doesn’t know how long it may take.
Depending on contradictions found and interviews, the investigation may also involve other agencies that were part of it.
Paulk said he doesn’t have a timeline on how long it’s going to take, but he will not rush it. Nothing in the files can be released until the investigation is concluded.
“It’s been an ongoing thing. It’s brought a lot of different things to the county and a lot of division in some places. I want to know the truth and I want other people to know the truth,” said Sheriff Paulk.
“There’s not a case that exists like Kendrick Johnson’s, so we’re glad there’s a resurgence because his name needs to be spoken amongst the George Floyds, the Breonna Taylors, the Ahmaud Arbery, the Trayvon Martin, the Mike Brown,” said Coleman.
Founder and president of Save Ourselves, Coleman said that it’s been a very tough eight years for the family.
“Let’s not forget this mother saw several images of Kendrick’s mutilated body through autopsy photos. She saw that online they were leaked, let’s not forget the crime scene investigation video by Lowndes County back then was leaked. So she saw her son fall out of the mat on the internet,” said Coleman.
Coleman said it was unbearable for the family when the case closed in 2016. He said he’s glad the case is not in federal hands.
“Justice for Kendrick Johnson literally means those that are responsible for his death, and I mean everybody, those responsible for the cover-up, they be arrested, they be charged, they be convicted, they be sentenced properly,” said Coleman.