Lawsuit filed after 6-year-old died in Brooklyn Park foster home

A year and a half after her death, few would argue 6-year-old Kendrea Johnson’s needed help. She was found in the bedroom of her Brooklyn Park foster home, hanging from her bunk bed by a jump rope.      

“It doesn't happen often, but kids under 10 do commit suicide,” says civil rights attorney, Jeff Montpetit.

Montpetit is representing Johnson's grandmother Mary Broadus who is now suing Hennepin County along with Family Alternatives, a non-profit  placement center, and Lifespan, a day treatment program. She's also suing Johnson's foster mother, Tannise Nawaqvou.

The lawsuit seeks more than $20 million in damages, but more than anything, justice for Johnson.

“The situation here is you have a system that is broken," Montpetit said. "You have a system that needs correction and a family that suffered a terrible loss."

According to the complaint, Johnson displayed a list of symptoms consistent with major depressive disorder and psychosis. Thirty to ninety days before her death, a health counselor noted Johnson was experiencing suicidal and homicidal behavior every day, or nearly every day, yet no one ever referred her to a psychiatrist.

Following her death, an investigation revealed a possible sexual assault and drug use inside the foster home. No one was ever charged but the license for her foster home was permanently revoked. The license for the company tasked with oversight has since been reinstated.

Attorney for Family Alternatives, Richard Thomas, said “this case has been thoroughly investigated and no one has been able to find a basis to point any fault at Family Alternatives or the foster family.”

A spokesperson for Hennepin County said it would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing litigation.

“It's justice for the system, unfortunately Kendrea is not the only case,” Montpetit said.