The court documents state that Johnson’s parents, Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, believe the defendants tried to “cover up the circumstances surrounding Johnson’s death” and interfered with the family’s attempts to “access both state and federal courts.”
The court also stated that Johnson’s family and their attorney failed to “serve the defendants with a summons and complaint within 90 days after the complaint was filed.” They waited 54 days to request a summons for Brandon, Brian and Richard Bell. The family also waited 81 days to request a summons for the remaining defendants — the Lowndes County School District, Rodney Bryan, Chris Prine, Stryde Jones, Wesley Taylor, Lowndes County, Stephen Wesley Owens and Dr. Maryanne Gaffney-Kraft.
Back in 2013, Johnson was found dead in a rolled-up mat in his high school gym. His mysterious death was ruled an accident by law enforcement, but his family believed their son’s death was a homicide. The Bell brothers were reportedly named as suspects for his murder. Their father worked for the FBI and the family believed he was able to tamper with evidence to protect his sons. The family was investigated, but no charges were ever filed against them.
According to CNN, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) determined that Johnson’s death was the result of “positional asphyxia.” They claimed he fell into the mat while looking for his shoes and died after he couldn’t get out. Students reportedly told officials that it was common for them to store their shoes in or behind the mats.
Johnson’s family was able to get an independent autopsy done. According to their autopsy, Johnson died of “unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma,” which contradicted the results of the GBI.
Video footage was missing from the school and the family believed that someone tried to cover up evidence. A forensic analyst recruited by CNN found that tapes from two cameras were missing hours of footage.