Atlanta police shooting aftermath

by Walter Olson on September 15, 2011

Kathryn Johnson, 92, “was shot and killed by police during a botched drug raid in 2006,” resulting in a payout of millions of dollars by the city. Now Rev. Markel Hutchins, who made public appearances as spokesperson for Johnston’s family, is suing her estate, saying he had an understanding to receive 10 percent of any recovery. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WABE] (& note commented controversy over whether “botched raid” is accurate.)

{ 14 comments }

1 doug 09.15.11 at 6:07 am

greedy.

2 max 09.15.11 at 8:17 am

Love ya Walter, but I don’t think “botched” is an accurate descriptor here.

Going from memory here, but the only botching of the raid itself was that one of the gangsters accidentally shot another – or maybe a ricochet or something.

3 MN Mom 09.15.11 at 8:31 am

Just following in the footsteps of other great ministers, I mean shake-down artists

4 Artemis Fowl 09.15.11 at 8:40 am

While I agree that the suit is silly, calling it a botched raid is inaccurate. I live in Atlanta and have seen the details of this issue.

What actually happened is that the officers in question forged evidence to get a no knock warrant and gunned down a 92 year old woman. They are going to (or maybe in this point) federal prison for murder. It wasn’t just a “botched raid” or “accident”.

Should the payout be millions? Maybe not. Should the city be liable for fostering the environment that produces this sort of police behavior? Yes. Do the taxpayers who put this system in place bear some responsibility? Certainly.

This is not a case of someone suing over a spilled cup of coffee. This is a case of police officers committing murder and a department that covered for them.

5 max 09.15.11 at 9:37 am

Adding to Fowl’s details: after murdering Johnston they also planted their handy throw-downs in her home.

The ready availability of this throw-down should be a reminder that one should never believe a police claim that drugs were found in any particular place.

6 William Nuesslein 09.15.11 at 10:38 am

I am having problems with Artemis Foul’s assertion above that officers forged evidence to gun down a 92 year old woman. It reminds me of Tawana Brawley’s ridiculous claims of years ago.

7 Patrick 09.15.11 at 12:22 pm

Georgia Code 13-8-2 might well answer this case. Unlike many states, Georgia still outlaws “contracts of maintenance or champerty“.

8 peter 09.15.11 at 4:45 pm

“problems with…. assertion ….officers forged evidence to gun down a 92 year old woman.”

Thats because that was notwht was asserted. I believe that no-one thinks that they wanted to shoot a 92 year old woman and then forged evedince to do it. However what is regretably all to believable is that they go to every raid ready to plant evidence if it all goes wrong.

9 No Name Guy 09.15.11 at 5:56 pm

Willaim N.

Try
http://reason.com/search?cx=000107342346889757597%3Ascm_knrboh8&cof=FORID%3A11&ie=UTF-8&q=Kathryn+Johnson&sa=Search#1087

Or go to Reason.com and search for “Kathryn Johnson” in the little search box on the upper right.

“There are two issues at stake in the Johnston raid, and it’s important to separate them. The first is the behavior of the individual narcotics officers, who according to reports invented an informant, then pressured an informant used on other cases to lie to cover their mistakes. If true, their behavior is obviously an aberration, and ought to be punished.”
“In March 2005, for example, there was a remarkably similar raid on the home next door to Johnston’s. Like the Johnston raid, that raid involved a phantom informant, a “no-knock” entry, and turned up no drugs or arrests (the Johnston raid allegedly turned up a small amount of marijuana, but there are doubts about its origin). It also involved several of the same narcotics officers that raided Johnston’s home.”

Both from Radley Balko’s article Feb 13, 2007 at Reason. This is but one of many articles Reason has on this particular case. I suggest you read them all, plus the copiously linked sources within said articles.

After reading up on the facts of this senseless killing, you may wish to revise your view.

10 No Name Guy 09.15.11 at 6:01 pm

William: See the April 27, 2007 article from Balko as well at Reason.

http://reason.com/blog/2007/04/27/in-atlanta-the-worst-case-scen

“Two police officers in the Kathryn Johnston case have pled guilty of manslaughter. They face 10 and 12 years in prison, respectively. They pled in exchange for testimony about the “culture of corruption” among narcotics officers in the Atlanta Police Department.

As I’ve written before, I’m not particularly fond of felony murder in principle, so I think this is an appropriate charge. And if the plea helps to uncover more fundamental problems with the way Atlanta police its drug crimes, all the better. And it looks like it’s doing exactly that.

We now know that Kathryn Johnston fired only a single bullet, through the door as police were trying to break in. They responded with a storm of bullets, which apparently both wounded Johnston and the officers themselves. When they realized their fatal error, they planted cocaine and marijuana in the woman’s home. They then pressured an uninvolved informant to testify to having made controlled buys at Johnston’s home to cover their tracks.

The New York Times is now reporting that the officers have told federal investigators that their behavior was not out of the ordinary. That corruption, planting evidence, and giving false testimony are routine at APD. That’s not surprising. The only way these officers could think they’d get away with all of this is if they were operating within a system that routinely allows for—or even encourages—such behavior. APD’s focus on arrest numbers and professional rewards for the big bust apparently incentivized such short cuts.”

11 William Nuesslein 09.16.11 at 10:50 am

Two Los Angeles policemen were sentenced to 3o years for using force to cuff Rodney King. Politics overcame common sense with the possibility of additional murderous riots in the air.. It was alright to slam a truck driver in the head with a cement block, but it was not alright to strike King on the shoulders to get him to submit to being cuffed.

As I understand the Reason article referred to above, two Atlanta policemen gave the prosecutors what they wanted, support for a ridiculous theory.

By the way, the OJ trial was loaded with references to planted evidence. The planted glove would have looked bad had OJ been at a party, as he was the night before the murders, or had he been on an earlier flight. Planting the glove made no sense at all.

12 No Name Guy 09.16.11 at 11:47 am

Damn there William, you’re being pretty dense. Let me spell it so it might penetrate that wall of willful ignorance you’re putting up.

1) What part of the cops FABRICATED the information to get the warrant do you fail to comprehend?

2) Then as a result of that fabrication, in a no knock raid, the cops gun down an innocent old lady . Apparently thinking she was being robbed in an apparently rough part of town, old lady has her pistol – quite a natural reaction for someone who hasn’t done anything to warrant the cops busting down her door. And being an old lady, she might be a bit hard of hearing and not have the sharpest vision, nor might not be the quickest of mind, so that she might not be able to hear, see or think clearly or quickly enough to tell it’s cops busting down her door.

3) The cops then throw down pot and coke, planting it in her home, to cover their @$$e$ when there was no drugs in said house where at (1) they said they had bought drugs there. After all, if you have a body, you had better have some drugs to go with it, especially an old lady’s body. So tell me, is a stash of pot and coke standard police equipment? Or do you think it might hint of corruption that they had that on them to throw down once they didn’t find any there?

4) Then the cops suborned perjury about buying drugs from the place from a CI.

13 mike 09.16.11 at 5:00 pm

I know nothing about this, but here are my thoughts.
1) cops in LA know where the drugs are being sold, not sure why in ATL they would have to (or want to) make up a new/false location to find drugs? (its more likely to me the cops thought or knew drugs were being sold there, yet couldnt prove it,……than they wanted to raid an innocent house just for kicks.)
2) not sure why the ATL cops had to fake a warrant, are real ones hard to get???
3) the cops were shot at, have to expect return fire.
4) The cover up, ZERO excuse for that! I dont beleive they had to cover up the actual shooting, just the bogus warrant.

14 William Nuesslein 09.17.11 at 10:03 am

Mr. No Name Guy,

I don’t believe the evidence alluded to in the REASON article because there is a natural tendency to give a determined prosecutor what he needs for a conviction in a politically charged atmosphere. The day-care center cases and the repressed memory cases show that communities and juries will believe fantastic stories. The yarn you spin sounds too much like a plot to a bad novel.

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