Thursday, February 26, 2009

Justice for Kathryn Johnston?

In November 2006, a group of Atlanta police officers executed a "no knock" warrant at the home of Kathryn Johnston in a drug infested part of Atlanta. Thinking someone was breaking in, 92-year old Johnston squeezed off a warning shot from the old pistol she kept by her side. The police officers burst in behind a hail of gunfire, leaving the elderly woman riddled with bullets in her own home.

The police officers planted some marijuana in the house and "lamented" the old lady's loss of life while trying to protect her "drug empire"! Yeah, a 92-year old drug dealer!

Well, two and a half years later, the cops who perpetrated the crime are finally brought to justice.

Excerpts from AJC.com story:
A federal judge who sent three fallen cops to prison for a notorious drug raid that left an elderly woman dead said Tuesday that Atlanta Police Department performance quotas unduly influenced the officers’ behavior.

At the close of an emotional two-day hearing, Carnes sentenced former officers Gregg Junnier, Jason R. Smith and Arthur Bruce Tesler to between 5 and 10 years in prison.

At the hearing, Tesler’s lawyer provided examples of other Atlanta police officers breaking the rules or violating the law and said a disturbing culture of misconduct pervades the force.

Carnes imposed the most severe sentence — 10 years — on Smith, 36, who obtained the illegal, no-knock search warrant allowing officers to batter down 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston’s door.

A terrified Johnston, thinking she was victimized by a home invasion, fired a warning shot through the door. Narcotics officers responded with a hail of gunfire, killing her.

Carnes sentenced Junnier, 42, to 6 years in prison. Junnier, the most experienced officer, was the first to cross the “blue line” — the unspoken code of silence among police — and divulge to the FBI what really happened at Neal Street and how the officers concocted a sophisticated coverup.

For Junnier’s cooperation, Carnes cut his time from the 10 years recommended by sentencing guidelines.

The judge gave the biggest break to Tesler, saying prosecutors’ recommendation of a 10- to 14-year term was “unduly harsh” because, overall, he played a “minor role.” She sentenced Tesler, 42, to five years in prison.

The FBI also found performance quotas of 9 arrests and 2 search warrants a month expected of officers, McKenney said. Officers who failed to meet their quotas risked being transferred, he said.

This helped explain, Carnes said, why Smith, Junnier and Tesler — three men who were devoted family men and who gave selflessly to the communities — began cutting corners through lies.

Carnes also ordered all three former officers to reimburse Johnston’s estate the $8,180 it cost to bury the 92-year-old woman.


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plez sez: but will there ever be justice for Kathryn Johnston? she's still dead. it may be years before the family sees the $8,000 for her funeral costs. what ever became of her house?

this is one of those stories that have no happy endings. these cops will do some time, but nothing equal to first degree murder during the commission of a crime. ms. johnston's family will never be adequately compensated for their loss. and i'll bet my paycheck that to this day, drug dealers are still slinging crack down the street or around the corner from where ms. johnston was slain.

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the AJC.com article about the illegal drug raid on Ms. Johnston's home.

Read the CNN.com article about the sentences handed down on the officers who raided Kathryn Johnston's home.

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3 comments:

Villager said...

I came across this story when I first started blogging back in early 2007. Thank you for sharing this update on the sentencing.

It is a sad story in many ways.

peace, Villager

DJ Black Adam said...

This is ridicules. They should have gotten at least 20 years. I know all polic officers aren't bad, but this is a real example of why I am very careful around them and generally don't trust them.

way2buzy said...

What's worse than corruption in the public services? Not much other than being homeless and then even that may not be as bad. Corruption makes me ill. I'm glad they were brought to justice, now if they could just bring Ms. Johnson back to life so that she could pass from this world in a normal fashion and have a chance to love her family a little longer. So sad.