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(WXIA) -- Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson are fighting to find out exactly what happened to their son Kendrick.

The 17-year-old student-athlete was found dead inside a rolled-up gym mat at Lowndes High School in Valdosta earlier this year.

Kendrick's parents and their attorney C.B. King spoke exclusively to 11Alive News Monday morning. Contrary to the investigation, they believe the teen's death was no accident.

RELATED | Second autopsy questions Kendrick's death
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Initial reports said Kendrick dove into the mat to retrieve a lost shoe; he got stuck upside down and died from asphyxiation. The local sheriff's department closed the case.

But a second autopsy ordered by Kendrick's parents determined he was killed by blunt force trauma to the neck. Attorney King said an EMT at the scene noticed a neck injury on the teen's body.

"We've got a wealth of evidence that requires that this case be reopened," King said.

Kenneth Johnson said he decided to continue the investigation because the first report into his son's death "just didn't fit." He said police gave him two different accounts of how they found Kendrick's body -- they initially said he got into the rolled-up mat feet first, then said the next day that he entered headfirst.

Videotape from inside the gym could reveal exactly how Kendrick died. Kenneth Johnson is pleaded with the sheriff's department to release the tape.

"It'd show up and tell us everything that happened," he said. "If (Kendrick's death) was an accident, they'd have showed us the tape by now."

"Nobody thinks it's an accident," Jacquelyn Johnson added, saying several of Kendrick's friends have approached her to offer their support of the second investigation.

The teen's mother said she learned of her son's death on Jan. 11, a day after he was reported missing.

"We all know that Kendrick was murdered," Jacquelyn Johnson said. "He didn't just fall into a mat. It wasn't an accident."

The Johnsons swear they will not give up until they find out exactly how their son died.

"We're going to continue until we get justice for Kendrick," Jacquelyn Johnson said.

Harold Copus, a private investigator and former FBI agent, also spoke with 11Alive News about the case.

VIDEO | Private Investigator Harold Copus talks to 11Alive about the case

He stressed that the idea the teen's death was accidental doesn't make sense. Copus pointed to photographs from the scene that show both of Kendrick's shoes at his feet, contradicting those reports that he was going after his shoe.

"You couldn't do that if you were a Las Vegas magician," Copus said.

Copus said he believes Kendrick's death is not under a massive investigation because it wouldn't look good for the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office to contradict itself in changing the cause of death.

When Kendrick's body was exhumed for the second autopsy, officials discovered many of the organs were missing and the teen's remains were stuffed with newspaper. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the funeral home that prepared the body for burial offer differing accounts of what happened to the organs.

"You have a conflict here," Copus said. "You would expect the organs to be with the body. They're not, so ... somebody's covering up there."

Copus said he expects the case to continue as a federal civil rights investigation.

"I find it highly suspicious that this young man died the way they said that it occurred. It doesn't make any sense to me," he said. "There are too many questions right now."

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