Federal Investigation of 92-Year-Old's Death Concludes with Guilty Plea

Oct 31, 2008

drug war, law enforcement, raids, victims

The last of three Atlanta police officers pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the shooting death of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston nearly two years ago, thus concluding the federal investigation of that tragic incident.

It appears likely the investigation report will fault shortcuts taken by Atlanta narcotics officers to secure illegal search warrants, which, if you'll read our summary of the incident, you'll see is a grotesque understatement in Ms. Johnston's case. These officers arbitrarily targeted the woman's home as a crack house, lied to secure a no-knock warrant, shot her five or six times, and then attempted to plant a small amount of marijuana in order to justify their rampage.

Vile abuses of authority are a terrible, inevitable part of human nature. Accountability and harsh justice for the men involved in Ms. Johnston's death are necessary and appropriate. But until we look at the policies that embolden such men, expect more abuse.

After all, these drug enforcement professionals believed they might get away with the senseless slaying of a 92-year-old woman if she were found possessing marijuana. What does that say about the attitudes that underlie our marijuana policies?