CNN’s Victor Blackwell finally jumps back into the Kendrick Johnson quagmire with this coverage in January 2014. Mostly reiterating what has already been reported, it still stands as a solid – cogent – report. The voluminous nature of this case makes it difficult for even the craftiest journalist/investigator to grasp and pin down.
Because no matter how corrupt the average person might think law enforcement and the community supporting it is and can be, this case blows all previous conceived notions to bits. The nominal amount of due diligence expected from even the most incompetent law enforcement, the most corrupt and unconscionable, simply doesn’t come close to the way the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office handled the investigation – or didn’t handle it, rather.
For example, what seemed unfathomable about a year ago, for someone trying to find information about this case, was the lack of information available – and what was available seemed to circumvent what ordinarily would be germane to a murder investigation – and this was on and off the table from the outset. Sheriff Chris Prine changed his story various times, claiming it was an accident hours before the coroner had even been called, while other statements in various media coverage stated it was being treated as a crime scene.
The lack of investigation was evident, no matter what the statements were coming out of the sheriff’s office and other agencies, along with the school district (e.g. Superintendent Wes Taylor’s overly-prepared statement released the day the body was found).
Lt. Stryde Jones from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, claimed they had exhaustively interviewed students, teachers and other individuals – but, as Blackwell points out in this video, only 33 people were interviewed in the entire month of January 2013, 4 in February, 1 in March and – when media scrutiny began zeroing in on the case – 72 in April.
Then back to previous standards, only 1 in May.
The first medical personnel on the scene, responding to the 911 call which reported possible cardiac arrest from chest pains, were not interviewed until April 17, while the paramedic from SGMC who reported bruising and insisted it was a crime scene the day after on April 18. The janitors, who clearly would have had some insights, having access to the gym after-hours and would’ve been aware of any blood in the gym or elsewhere, weren’t interviewed until April 26.
The list of failures is longer than any – even the most jaded cynic – would expect.
Now the U.S. Attorney from Macon, Georgia, Michael Moore, supposedly has opened an investigation and has several agent on the ground in Lowndes County interviewing various parties – which is hopeful on its face. And according to the attorney for the sheriff’s office, “While Sheriff Prine has every confidence that his officers’ investigation was handled with the necessary diligence to assure that all leads were examined and exhausted, he welcomes the US Attorney’s further review of the case.”
That unfortunately sounds a bit too confident. Hubris, or certainty?
Time will tell?
There are factors of such enormity, and also factors nuanced in ways almost undetectable to the non-Georgian….Therein lies the rub.