Student Dies, Surveillance Tampering Alleged

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on Dec 02, 2013

17-year-old Kendrick Johnson’s dead body was found rolled up in a gym mat at Lowndes County High School in Georgia. The family and investigators are still trying to figure out what led to his death. Everything is in dispute, from the cause of death to how many people were in the gym when he died. The case, which has received widespread media coverage, has now zeroed in on the school’s surveillance footage. 

Surveillance Footage In Dispute

CNN hired video forensics expert Grant Fredericks to review 290 hours worth of video released by the school. It took a court order from Kendricks parents to get the school to release the video. Fredericks came to the conclusion that the video had been altered in some way, video was missing and several files were corrupted and unplayable. One camera is missing 65 minutes worth of footage and another is missing 130. For another video the time stamp doesn’t match that of the other cameras.

Instead of retrieving the actual video system components, like police do in other major cases, the police left it up to the school to provide them with copies of the footage, which the school provided days later. 

The System

Not much information has been released about the system, but what we do know is that there were four cameras in the gym and 32 in different parts of the school, including right outside of the gym door. We also know that the cameras only record upon motion activation. 

What the Footage Shows

Of hundreds of hours of footage, Kendrick is only visible for minutes. One clip shows him entering the gym and what appears to be three other students following him in:

Two other cameras show him run across the field of view after entering the gym:

Camera 1

Camera 2

The footage from these two cameras both jump cut as if a section as been deletedThe worst images came from the camera directly facing the mats where his body was found. The arrow below shows where they are in the field of view. This camera would have likely provided the most evidence for the case. 

Cause of Death in Dispute

The official autopsy from the medical examiner said he died from suffocation from being stuffed into the mat, however an independent autopsy ordered by the family says Kendrick died of blunt force trauma to the neck.

Developments

In October, a federal prosecutor reopened the case and an anonymous donor put up $10,000 as a reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. 

IPVM Recommendations

  • The school clearly has a conflict of interest in handling the video surveillance. The video could have evidence that makes them liable for damages. This is a situation where the end user is not simply a bystander but a potential culprit or contributor.
  • It is extremely hard to determine whether this is a bad system, a poorly maintained one or tampered one.
  • Of the various tampering charges, the only one that seems realistic is that certain video segments / times were not exported on purpose.
  • Exporting video over long time periods can be hard / time consuming. See our Sharing Surveillance Video with the Police guide and VMS exporting test results.
  • The best move, in retrospect, would have been turning over the whole surveillance recorder immediately. However, this generally does not happen as it would require the school to get an immediate replacement. On the other hand, this is a death / potential homicide so the extra effort is understandable.
  • By now, the original video surveillance is certainly gone. The only hope would be the system logs that might contain listings of what video was exported (and what omitted), whether the system had recording errors or whether any video was deleted (though unlikely as most systems do not allow manually deleting video.
Comments (26) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Latest London Police Facial Recognition Suffers Serious Issues on Feb 24, 2020
On February 20, IPVM visited another live face rec deployment by London police, but this time the system was thwarted by technical problems and...
London Live Police Face Recognition Visited on Feb 13, 2020
London police have officially begun using live facial recognition in select areas of the UK capital, sparking significant controversy. IPVM...
Covert Elevator Face Recognition on Oct 24, 2019
Covert elevator facial recognition has the potential to solve the cost and complexity of elevator surveillance while engendering immense privacy...
Kidnapping Victim Rescued With Video From Ring Doorbell Camera on May 24, 2019
A kidnapping victim was rescued within 24 hours, with the police crediting video from a Ring Doorbell camera as key to solving the case. A girl was...
Bank Security Manager Interview on May 15, 2019
Bank security contends with many significant threats - from fraudsters to robbers and more. In this interview, IPVM spoke with bank security...
San Francisco Face Recognition Ban And Surveillance Regulation Details Examined on May 14, 2019
San Francisco passed the legislation 8-1 today. While the face recognition 'ban' has already received significant attention over the past few...
Restaurant Security Manager Interview on May 06, 2019
Wright’s Gourmet House in Tampa, Florida has been around for over 50 years. During most of that time, there were no security measures in place. Now...
Casino Security Consultant Carl Lindgren Interview on Mar 26, 2019
For more than 20 years, Carl Lindgren worked as a casino surveillance pro, while being active (and sometimes outspoken) on various online video...
IBM / Genetec Surveillance System Investigated Over Philippines Human Rights Abuses on Mar 22, 2019
A lengthy investigation into an IBM video surveillance project in the Philippines, raising concerns IBM helped local police conduct a bloody...
Large Hospital Security End User Interview on Mar 21, 2019
This large single-state healthcare system consists of many hospitals, and hundreds of health parks, private practices, urgent care facilities, and...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Embedded Logix Thermal Temperature Detection System Examined on Apr 08, 2020
Embedded Logix has been producing thermal temperature measurement systems for industry and fire detection for over 10 years. Now, they are entering...
Micron 1 TB SD Cards Aim To Eliminate NVRs on Apr 08, 2020
Micron has boldly proclaimed their latest 1TB microSD "eliminates the need for network video recorders", targeting the growing market of...
US DoD Declares "Can No Longer Do Business" With Contractors Using Dahua, Hikvision, Huawei on Apr 08, 2020
The US Department of Defense has confirmed to IPVM that they fully support and intend to proceed with the NDAA 'blacklist clause' covering Dahua,...
IPVM's 12th Anniversary - Thank You! on Apr 07, 2020
IPVM is proud to celebrate it's 12 anniversary expanding our commitment to providing the industry independent and objective information on video...
Mobotix Thermal Body Temperature Detection Examined on Apr 07, 2020
Mobotix has jumped into the Coronavirus temperature detection market, but how do they compare to thermal incumbents like FLIR or ICI who have been...
Verkada Coronavirus Response: Free Temp Systems For Government and Health Care on Apr 07, 2020
Verkada has built a reputation on giving away things for free - free Yeti Tumblers, free trial cameras and now free temporary systems for...
Hikvision USA Refuses, Dahua USA Drives Forward With "Coronavirus Cameras" on Apr 07, 2020
Both have been federally banned, both sanctioned for human rights abuses but only one - Dahua - is taking aim at the booming "coronavirus cameras"...
China Surveillance Vulnerabilities Being Used To Attack China, Says China on Apr 07, 2020
While China video surveillance vulnerabilities have been much debated in the West in the past few years, China is now saying those vulnerabilities...
USA ICI Elevated Skin Temperature Detectors Examined on Apr 06, 2020
Infrared Cameras, Inc. (ICI) is aiming to help slow the spread of COVID-19 with "pinpoint accurate skin temperature measurement" using their...
Trade Groups Request NDAA Blacklist Delay Citing Coronavirus on Apr 06, 2020
Two trade groups representing government contractors have asked Congress to delay implementation of the NDAA's 'blacklist' clause from this August...