Another miscarriage of justice in the South?
Police have called it suicide but the facts don't seem to add up.
Help us demand the truth.
Dear ColorOfChange.org member,
On December 8th, 17-year-old Billey Joe Johnson died from a gunshot wound to the head. Police say he killed himself with a shotgun after being stopped for a simple traffic violation in Lucedale, Mississippi.1 Several things seem to cast doubt on the official story, including an independent investigation that concluded it would have been impossible for the shot that killed Johnson to have been self-inflicted.
Many on the ground smell a murder and a cover-up. We don't have all the answers, but it's clear that in the racially divided town of Lucedale, all the ingredients exist for a miscarriage of justice.
Your voice can help ensure that the District Attorney feels the presence of a national spotlight when he presents his findings to a grand jury on Monday. Let him know that anything short of a thorough investigation will result in massive attention and a call for outside intervention.
Can you lend your voice to demand justice for Billey Joe?
From the beginning, the District Attorney has treated the investigation of Billey Joe's death as a suicide or the result of an accidental self-inflicted injury. Based on his public statements and interactions with Billey Joe's family, it appears that the District Attorney hasn't looked into whether Billey Joe was killed by an officer or someone else. Again, we don't have all the answers, but here's what we do know:
A true investigation would sort out fact from rumor. But we can't be sure that Johnson's family will get the investigation it deserves. In the case of the Jena 6 we saw a District Attorney and a judge incapable of carrying out justice in a racially charged environment. In the recent case of the murder of Oscar Grant by police (and many like it), we see how unlikely it is for District Attorneys to do their job when the suspect is an officer of the law. But in both these cases, public pressure has made all the difference by shining a spotlight on local authorities.
In the case of Billey Joe Johnson, we're looking for the truth and for justice. A minute of your time can help ensure his family gets both:
Thanks and Peace,
-- James, Gabriel, Clarissa, William, Dani, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
February 5th, 2009
1. "Mississippi family looks for answers in son's death," USA Today, 12-22-08 http://tinyurl.com/aul9hd
2. "Autopsy not completed in football star's death," The Sun Herald, 1-06-09
3. Police report and radio logs detailing events leading up to Johnson's death, posted on WKRG-TV website
4. "CNN Newsroom: Mystery Death in Mississippi," CNN, 12-17-08
5. "Mississippi running back Billey Joe Johnson, Jr. ran for 1,559 yards and 24 touchdowns before his death in December," Collin Mickle-Press-Register, 1-11-09
6. "Player's death report leaves many puzzled," The Sun Herald, 12-21-08