Actress Jenifer Lewis is urging members of Congress to open an investigation regarding the death of a 17-year-old Black teenager in Georgia whose death was ruled as an accident.
Authorities confirmed that Kendrick Johnson, who attended Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia, was in the gym when he accidentally stumbled into the center of the rolled-up mat and became trapped. While his parents never believed this theory surrounding the case, Johnson’s story is now being told nationally, with celebrities like Lewis demanding answers, Black Enterprise reported.
Lewis, 64, narrated and executive produced a documentary Finding Kendrick Johnson, currently available on Amazon Prime and shown on Starz on Dec. 27. The film sheds light on the findings after a four-year undercover probe into the facts of the disturbing case.
On Jan. 11, 2013, Johnson, a sophomore, was found in a gym mat. State and local officials ruled that Johnson suffocated after allegedly reaching for a pair of sneakers inside the mat and getting stuck. However, there are lingering questions regarding the case and the possibility of a widespread cover-up, Black Enterprise reported.
The Black-ish star appeared on TMZ Live to stress the importance of the case and called for Congress to launch an investigation to find out what happened to Johnson.
“This is the most important film I’ve ever worked on,” Lewis said. “What this family has gone through is unspeakable, but we must speak it, so the public knows the truth.”
“You know how much evidence the FBI has to have to storm somebody’s house with guns AK- 47s out? And then when they got in there and saw that it was an FBI agent, it was just pushed under the rug, just pushed under the rug. Another Black kid. So what?”
In March of this year, Fox 5 Atlanta reported that a sheriff in Georgia disclosed that his office had received some new information concerning the investigation in the teen’s death. Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said that they have an audio recording of someone confessing to the killing of Johnson.
Paulk recalled that Johnson’s mother, Jackie Johnson, obtained the recording and turned it over to the investigators.
“They had a recording that they actually purchased from someone who said that it would be valuable as far as saying who possibly had committed the crime and change their situation,” Paulk said.
The sheriff, who expects the investigation to take at least six months to examine, said he’s now reviewing the evidence that Johnson’s family helped obtain. In addition, he plans to re-interview witnesses and other people connected to the case.