The U.S. Department of Justice has ended its investigation into the hanging death of Marion County teen Raynard Johnson, saying there was not enough evidence to warrant a prosecution.
The statement issued by the Justice Department states that the "evidence does not support a federal criminal civil rights prosecution. Despite the tragic nature of this event, the evidence does not suggest that a criminal act occurred."
Raynard Johnson's death was thrust into the nation spotlight when Rev. Jesse Jackson came to Marion County. He demanded a federal investigation saying he didn't trust the authorities in Mississippi to conduct a thorough investigation.
Rev. Jackson has not issued a statement concerning today's ruling from the Justice Department, but Rainbow/PUSH Coalition National Field Director Gary Flowers told us they still believe it was a murder, not a suicide.
"We will pursue vigorously and for however long it takes, an investigation that yields convictions for those responsible for his death," Flowers told WLOX news. Flowers also says he believes the Justice Department was hampered by a poor investigation by local authorities.
Marion County District Attorney Buddy McDonald says the U. S. Justice Department's conclusion is a vindication of sorts for all of the hard work done by local authorities. He says he was confident all along that the departments review of the findings would show that there was no wrong doing.
"We went into this matter from the beginning with an attitude that we wanted to try to get to the truth of the matter," McDonald said. "If a crime had been committed, we wanted to do everything possible to apprehend the people who committed the crime and to prosecute the people that committed the crime. If a crime had not been committed, we wanted to find that out too and get to the truth of the matter."