Nightly News   |  October 31, 2013

Feds to investigate mysterious teen gym mat death

Local authorities say it was just a freak accident – but the teen found dead rolled up in a gym mat at his Georgia high school say it was murder and fought to reopen the case. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we are back with a story getting more attention. the mysterious death of a high school football player in georgia and his parents who are convinced this was no accident.

>> reporter: newly released surveillance video shows small glimpses of kendrick johnson 's final hours. the 17 year known as k.j. is seen entering his high school .

>> there is a dead body here.

>> the video does not show how the body ended up here inside a rolled up gym mat in a space just under 14 inches wide.

>> we have to fight for him because if we don't fight no one will.

>> reporter: they believe their son was murdered and someone is trying to cover it up.

>> we want justice and we are not stopping until we get justice.

>> reporter: today a federal prosecutor weighed in publicly for the first time announcing a formal review of the facts with the fbi ready to help. after initial autopsy sheriff's deputies and the georgia bureau of investigation concluded that johnson died in a tragic accident, that he fell head first into the upright mat, reaching for a shoe, got trapped and couldn't breathe.

>> we believe we conducted a complete and thorough investigation and we stand by that.

>> reporter: johnson 's family hired a pathologist.

>> we found --

>> now the case is being reopened this time by federal authorities.

>> we know this was not an accident. we know my son was murdered and we are waiting for the truth to come out.

>> and his family is waiting for local officials to release 1,900 hours of security video from different cameras in the next few days, images they hope will show whether their son truly died alone. nbc news, macon, georgia.