Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

BPD Says State Senator's Statement "Completely Inaccurate;" McCoy Cites "Reliable Source"

The Burlington Police Department is claiming the statements made by an Iowa lawmaker about the death of a Burlington teenager are "completely inaccurate." That claim is disputed by State Senator Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines), who said he spoke based on information he received from a "reliable source."

McCoy took to the floor of the Iowa Senate Monday afternoon to drum up support for his legislation aimed at protecting transgender individuals from hate crimes. During his roughly five minute speech, which is available on the Iowa Senate's website, he referenced the death of Kedarie Johnson, 16, of Burlington.

Johnson's body was found in an alley next to the 400 Block of Walnut Street at about 11:36 p.m. on March 2. The BPD has not released a cause of death as it awaits the results of an autopsy conducted in Iowa City last week.

Sen. McCoy mentioned aspects of Johnson's life and death during his statement on the Senate floor, aspects that had not been made public by the BPD. He spoke with reporters after his legislation was approved Tuesday afternoon and said he received the information about Johnson's death on good authority.

"That would be obviously the information that I was given through a really reliable source," said McCoy.

McCoy did acknowledge that he misspoke on the Senate floor when he repeatedly said that Johnson was female.

"[Johnson] was a boy who was questioning his gender identity," said McCoy. "I think on the floor I misspoke when I said [Johnson] was a girl transitioning to a boy. Everything else was pretty accurate."

Burlington Police Lt. Jeff Klein said he watched a video of McCoy's speech. Klein said the entire discussion about Johnson was not true.

"I can tell you that the information that he provided was completely inaccurate. I don’t know where he got his information from, but what he provided to the Senate was not true. I didn’t hear anything that was accurate in what he mentioned," Klein said.

Klein said he could not provide any specifics of his own until the autopsy report is returned. Meanwhile, the investigation continues and that more than 100 people have been interviewed.

“We’d like people to be more concerned about Kedarie as a human being than trying to cover up for someone," said Klein.


The Burlington School District released a statement Tuesday explaining how Johnson's funeral service would be handled.

"On Wed., March 9, 2016, Burlington Community High School will host funeral services for Kedarie Johnson in the BHS gymnasium. Visitation will be held from 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm with funeral services beginning at 6:00 pm. Funeral services will be presided over by Nathan Williams of Harmony Bible Church.

BHS students will be dismissed at 2:30 p.m., following a shortened class schedule. All district buses will run at their regular times. Aldo Leopold and Edward Stone Middle Schools will release at their normal times and will have buses available to shuttle students to BHS to attend the visitation and funeral services if they choose.

We ask members of the public arriving for the visitation to avoid parking on the east side of the building until after 3:30 p.m., when buses have been able to clear that area."

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.