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Old February 11, 2007, 09:19 PM   #1
Al Norris
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Update on Atlanta Raid From Last Fall

I don't know how we all missed this, but the Headline of Wednesdays Atlanta Journal-Constitution is:
Atlanta officers to face murder indictment
Fulton DA seeks charges in shooting of elderly woman in her home


OK, before anyone shouts, "It's about time," read the entire article and pay particular attention to the last couple of paragraphs:
Quote:
By BILL TORPY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 02/07/07

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard will seek criminal charges, including felony murder, against three Atlanta narcotics officers involved in a botched drug raid that resulted in the shooting death of an elderly woman, according to a proposed indictment.

The proposed indictment drawn up by the prosecutor's office names officers Gregg Junnier, Jason R. Smith and Arthur Tesler. Howard accuses them of felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, burglary, making false statements and violation of oath.

Defense attorney Rand Csehy, who is representing Junnier, said he received an e-mail from Howard's office Wednesday including the proposed indictment and saying the prosecutor would go before a grand jury Feb. 26 to seek charges against his client.

Those three officers were involved in securing a search warrant on Nov. 21 for the home of Kathryn Johnston. Shortly before the raid, Smith told a magistrate he and Tesler had a confidential informant buy $50 worth of crack at 933 Neal Street from a man named "Sam."

But, according to the proposed indictment, no informant went to the house.

Smith's attorney had no comment on the matter, and Tesler's could not be reached.

Eight officers were put on administrative leave after the shooting. The incident prompted an investigation that has included state and federal authorities.

Csehy responded angrily to the threat of an indictment against his client, saying, "It's an overbroad indictment."

He complained Howard's office acted prematurely without consulting with the FBI, which is still investigating.

"Paul Howard is no longer part of a joint investigation," Csehy said. Patrick Crosby, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said Howard had not informed his office about plans to seek indictments.

FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett said, "We did not know this was taking place prior. The FBI has been charged with leading this investigation. And to date, this investigation has not been completed."

Csehy conceded his client may have made mistakes, but he said Junnier didn't commit murder. "There was no malfeasance here. It was sloppy police work," Csehy said. "It was cutting corners."

Lyn Vaughn, spokeswoman for Howard, said the district attorney would not comment on the prospect of seeking indictments. However, Howard expressed outrage over the shooting in a letter this week to Markel Hutchins, spokesman for the Johnston family.

"The death of Mrs. Johnston constitutes one of the greatest tragedies ever to occur in Fulton County," Howard wrote. "I will not rest until every person responsible for her death is held accountable. ...

"When homicides occur in Fulton County, whether committed by a civilian or a law enforcement official, it is the obligation of the District Attorney's Office to take the appropriate legal actions."

On Nov. 21, narcotics officers went to Johnston's home in northwest Atlanta to execute a "no knock" search warrant. Johnston was killed and three officers were injured in an ensuing shootout.

No-knock warrants are frequently issued so police can get inside before suspects can dispose of drugs.

Her friends and family members contended Johnston, who kept the gun for her protection, was a feeble and frightened woman who rarely ventured outside after dark. Her family says she was 92, while authorities say she was 88.

Hearing her door being kicked in, the elderly woman fired on the officers. Officers Gary Smith, Cary Bond and Junnier were wounded by either "friendly fire" shrapnel or by Johnston. No cocaine was found in her house.

Junnier later told federal investigators that officers had lied to a magistrate judge about sending a confidential informant to Johnston's house to purchase drugs in order to get the warrant.

And, if the warrant to enter Johnston's home was based on deceit, all actions that occurred after police broke down the door could be considered criminal, legal experts said.

Junnier and Smith allegedly tried to cover up the botched raid by trying to persuade Alex White, a confidential informant they had previously used, to lie to investigators, according to proposed indictment. White came forward shortly after the shooting to say officers told him to lie and say he purchased crack cocaine at the home.

Police apparently were led to the house that day by an alleged small-time dealer who was arrested nearby on drug charges.

According to a report by Tesler, the suspect "wanted to take us to a house that had a kilo of cocaine. [He] directed us to 933 Neal Street N.W. where a buy of crack cocaine was later made and a search warrant drawn up for that location."

Atlanta police Sgt. Scott Kreher, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, called reports that prosecutors would seek indictments against the officers "sad."

"I think any time law enforcement officer is accused of a crime, we all sit back and wonder what went wrong and look within ourselves in what we do day to day," Kreher said. "Hopefully, if it's presented to a grand jury and there isn't enough evidence, they will send back a no bill."

Johnston's family was angry that Howard was bringing the case to the grand jury, spokesman Hutchins said.

"The family of Kathryn Johnston is extremely unhappy and disappointed with today's turn of events. Mr. Howard's move today of pressing charges would effectively limit the scope of and the potential charges of a federal investigation, and borders on tampering with a federal investigation."
A PDF of the proposed indictment is here.
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Old February 11, 2007, 09:46 PM   #2
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I read about this case when the shooting first happened. This is what scares me about "no-knock" warrants issued based on confidential informants only. I'd hate to ever be in a situation where I was firing on and receiving fire from LEO's in my own home.
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Old February 11, 2007, 11:29 PM   #3
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The DA is stacking the charges:

4 counts of murder
3 counts of violation of oath by public officer
4 counts of false statements
2 counts of burglary
1 count of criminal solicitation
1 count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
1 count of false imprisonment
1 count of perjury

Knowing how most Grand Juries can be manipulated, these charges will most likely go forward. What happens after that is anyone's guess.

What I want to know is what is the DA actually doing here? If the FBI is supposed to have the lead in this investigation, then why is the DA rushing this? Why cut them off? Is this just jurisdictional jealousy?
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Old February 12, 2007, 01:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett said, "We did not know this was taking place prior. The FBI has been charged with leading this investigation. And to date, this investigation has not been completed."
This is probably where the fecal material will contact the ventilation device.
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Old February 12, 2007, 01:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
rantingredneck said:
I read about this case when the shooting first happened. This is what scares me about "no-knock" warrants issued based on confidential informants only. I'd hate to ever be in a situation where I was firing on and receiving fire from LEO's in my own home.
You echo my sentiments exactly, and I don't think no-knock warrants should be issued in ANY case except where imminent danger to life requires it.

Anonymous tips are tools of those who fear facing the accused, and the only reason for that is if the justice system is failing to protect those who utilize it, or because their motives are not legitimate.

As to the case, I would like to see a full investigation of all parties involved, especially the basis of the no-knock warrant, and its justification of use for this circumstance.
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Old February 12, 2007, 01:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
What I want to know is what is the DA actually doing here? If the FBI is supposed to have the lead in this investigation, then why is the DA rushing this? Why cut them off? Is this just jurisdictional jealousy?
I gotta ask...Is this an election year for the DA? Politics can dictate action in an elected officer. Just look at the Duke U. Lacrosse mess as an example....
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Old February 12, 2007, 05:14 PM   #7
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You can be convicted in a state court + federal court and it does not violate double jeopardy. You could actually be convicted on murder in two states for the same crime and it would not violate double jeopardy. Double jeopardy attaches only when tried twice by the same sovereign jurisdiction. Separate sovereign jurisdictions (different states, fed gov) can prosecute an individual that has already been convicted in a different sovereign jurisdiction.



The movie "Double Jeopardy" is a complete falsehood because if I remember correctly, the lady traveled to a different state to kill her husband.
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Old February 12, 2007, 06:47 PM   #8
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My take on this is that the prosecution came up with the "felony murder" charge because they think the jury won't convict and the cop(s) will walk. Jury would probably vote to convict if lesser charges were pursued. My 2¢

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Old February 13, 2007, 02:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
You echo my sentiments exactly, and I don't think no-knock warrants should be issued in ANY case except where imminent danger to life requires it.

Anonymous tips are tools of those who fear facing the accused, and the only reason for that is if the justice system is failing to protect those who utilize it, or because their motives are not legitimate.
I fully agree with the first statement.

As for the second, you cannot expect to defend a charge unless you know who your original accuser is. If you do not know that information, you have no way to determine whether that accuser is someone who has had access to your living space or vehicle and may have planted "evidence" later to be "informed" about.

I've had to make a couple complaints in my time. When I did, I had every expectation that my complaints had better turn out to be founded or else I would be prosecuted for making a false complaint.

This is how it should be.
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Old February 13, 2007, 03:59 PM   #10
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I am confused as well about the whole attorney/FBI thing. The FBI won't be charging anyone with murder. They would be investigating civil rights violations. What's wrong with charging these guys with state violations too?
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Old February 13, 2007, 04:15 PM   #11
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That is the jurisdiction where the crime occured so the DA should have the right to bring them to trial. Would the FBI invesatigation change any of the facts of the case? Maybe the DA feels that the FBI is dragging its feet in finishing the case. Who knows.
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Old April 26, 2007, 01:08 PM   #12
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This from today 4-26-07

http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2007Apr...ooting,00.html

Quote:
3 Officers Charged in Drug Raid Death
Thursday, April 26, 2007

By HARRY R. WEBER, Associated Press Writer
ADVERTISEMENT
ATLANTA

A retired police officer pleaded guilty to manslaughter Thursday, shortly after an indictment was unsealed charging him and two fellow officers with the shooting death of a 92-year-old woman during a drug raid.

Gregg Junnier, 40, who retired from the Atlanta police force in January, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, violation of oath, criminal solicitation and making false statements.

Officer J.R. Smith, 35, also was expected to enter a plea during the hearing.

The state charges followed a Nov. 21 raid on the apartment of Kathryn Johnston. An informant had described buying drugs from a dealer there, police said. When the officers, with a no-knock warrant, burst in without warning, Johnston fired at them and they fired back, killing her.

Junnier and Smith had been charged in the indictment with felony murder, violation of oath by a public officer, criminal solicitation, burglary, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and making false statements.

The third officer, Arthur Tesler, 40, was charged with violation of oath by a public officer, making false statements and false imprisonment under color of legal process. His attorney, William McKenney, said Tesler expects to go to trial.

Tesler is "very relieved" not to face murder charges, McKenney said, "but we're concerned about the three charges." He said Tesler had testified before the grand jury.

Tesler and Smith have both been on administrative leave from the force.

In Junnier's case, prosecutors asked the judge to withhold sentencing until after a hearing later Thursday in federal court, where he was also expected to enter guilty pleas. Federal charges were expected against all three officers.

U.S. Attorney David Nahmias told The Associated Press the federal sentence for Junnier would be 10 years and one month in prison. The state and federal sentences were expected to be the same.

The deadly drug raid had been set up after narcotics officers said an informant had claimed there was cocaine in the home.

When the plainclothes officers burst in without notice, police say Johnston fired a handgun at the men, wounding three, and the officers returned fire. An autopsy report revealed Johnston was shot five or six times in the chest, arms, legs and feet. Initially, the medical examiner's office said Johnston was 88, while her relatives insisted she was 92. Public officials now agree she was 92.

The case raised serious questions about no-knock warrants and whether the officers followed proper procedures.

Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington asked the FBI to lead a multi-agency probe into the shootout. He also announced policy changes to require the department to drug-test its nearly 1,800 officers and mandate that top supervisors sign off on narcotics operations and no-knock warrants.

To get the warrant, officers told a magistrate judge that an undercover informant had told them Johnston's home had surveillance cameras monitored carefully by a drug dealer named "Sam."

After the shooting, a man claiming to be the informant told a television station that he never purchased drugs there, prompting Pennington to admit he was uncertain whether the suspected drug dealer actually existed.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins, a civil rights activist who serves as a spokesman for Johnston's family, said the family was satisfied with Thursday's developments.

"They have never sought vengeance. They have only sought justice," he said.

Hutchins said the family is considering civil action against the police department.

"I think what happened today makes it very clear that Ms. Johnston was violated, that her civil rights were violated," he said.

___

Associated Press Writer Jason Bronis contributed to this report from Atlanta.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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Old April 26, 2007, 02:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
My take on this is that the prosecution came up with the "felony murder" charge because they think the jury won't convict and the cop(s) will walk. Jury would probably vote to convict if lesser charges were pursued. My 2¢

badbob
My post on 2/12/07. Look's like that's the way it happened. As someone said "SSDD".

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Old April 26, 2007, 04:38 PM   #14
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There is omething askew here, anyone have a cc of the indictment?

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Old April 26, 2007, 11:13 PM   #15
Al Norris
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The only thing I saw was the proposed indictment I gave as a link in post #1.

A couple of other stories on this:

Two Atlanta Cops Plead Guilty To Manslaughter (this one was updated at 8:30pm eastern)

Three Atlanta Police Officers Charged In Fatal Shooting of Elderly Atlanta Woman
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Old April 27, 2007, 01:06 AM   #16
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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070427/....pJAeTIfDMWM0F


Quote:
Fulton County prosecutor Peter Johnson said that the officers involved in Johnston's death fired 39 shots, striking her five or six times, including a fatal blow to the chest.

Johnston fired only once through her door and didn't hit any of the officers, he said. That means officers who were wounded likely were hit by their own colleagues, he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Yonette Sam-Buchanan said Thursday that although the officers found no drugs in Johnston's home, Smith planted three bags of marijuana in the home as part of a cover story officers concoted.



Quote:
Officer J.R. Smith, who also agreed to resign from the police department, told a state judge that he regretted what had happened.

"I'm sorry," the 35-year-old said, his voice barely audible. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter, violation of oath, criminal solicitation, making false statements and perjury, which was based on untrue claims in a no-knock warrant obtained to enter Kathryn Johnston's home on Nov. 21.

Quote:
Former Officer Gregg Junnier, 40, who retired from the Atlanta police in January, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, violation of oath, criminal solicitation and making false statements under the plea deal. Both men are expected to face more than 10 years in prison.

In a hearing later in federal court, both pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to violate a person's civil rights, resulting in death. Their state and federal sentences would run concurrently, and both men agreed to help investigators with their probe into the activities of Atlanta narcotics officers.
wonder who is next? sounds like a deal was struck.....
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Old April 27, 2007, 01:21 AM   #17
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You know, I remember back when this happened there were a lot of folks in here defending the officers involved. Along with the standard "let's see how the investigation turns out" (which is reasonable) there were plenty of assumptions that A) she must have been letting somebody deal drugs out of her home and B) she "deserved" to die because she dared fire on cops.

There were a lot of LEOs/ex-LEOs (and others) in here unwilling to even entertain the idea that wrongdoing was involved, and more than willing to demonize this woman who appears to have been killed for no good reason.

I wonder if any will wander back in to revise their positions.
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Old April 27, 2007, 08:24 AM   #18
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Quote:
I wonder if any will wander back in to revise their positions.
I was kinda waiting for that back in Feb. when I first posted the update.

Haven't seen anyone....
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Old April 27, 2007, 08:49 AM   #19
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The problem in this case isn't that it was a "no knock" warrant; it is that corrupt, lying, pejurious police officers were involved.

The State of GA's charges of murder are superior to the fed civil rights charges. If the feds want to come in later, they can do that. GA DAs don't need permission from the feds to bring murder charges. I doubt that any of the victim's family are members of the GA bar.
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Old April 27, 2007, 09:32 AM   #20
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Quote:
The problem in this case isn't that it was a "no knock" warrant; it is that corrupt, lying, pejurious police officers were involved.
Note the bolded. There have been other cases where innocent people were injured/killed due to mistakes, rather than intentional perjury.

That, and the fact that it was a "no knock" warrant that turned these officers lies into a dead person.

Basically, I'm thinking this is just another example of why there really is a problem with "no knock" warrants in general, and especially our overuse of them for preservation of evidence rather than preservation of life.
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Old April 27, 2007, 10:20 AM   #21
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Quote:
The State of GA's charges of murder are superior to the fed civil rights charges. If the feds want to come in later, they can do that. GA DAs don't need permission from the feds to bring murder charges. I doubt that any of the victim's family are members of the GA bar.
Reading the last part of that article and that they pled guilty to manslaughter
seems like a deal may have been cut for them to roll over on other narcotics officers.
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Old April 27, 2007, 10:32 AM   #22
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Reading the last part of that article and that they pled guilty to manslaughter
seems like a deal may have been cut for them to roll over on other narcotics officers.
Ya think?
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Old April 27, 2007, 11:19 AM   #23
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Quote:
Quote:
Fulton County prosecutor Peter Johnson said that the officers involved in Johnston's death fired 39 shots, striking her five or six times, including a fatal blow to the chest.

Johnston fired only once through her door and didn't hit any of the officers, he said. That means officers who were wounded likely were hit by their own colleagues, he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Yonette Sam-Buchanan said Thursday that although the officers found no drugs in Johnston's home, Smith planted three bags of marijuana in the home as part of a cover story officers concoted.
I wonder where the "three bags of marijuana" came from. Cop: "Let's see I've got my gun, ammo, cuffs. mace, marijuana... Yep, ready to roll."

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Old April 27, 2007, 12:50 PM   #24
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"I wonder where the "three bags of marijuana" came from. Cop: "Let's see I've got my gun, ammo, cuffs. mace, marijuana... Yep, ready to roll."

Hum...

Looks like his missing his untracable, no finger prints 'throw down on the perp Saturday Night Special.'

He must have used it already.
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Old April 27, 2007, 12:58 PM   #25
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Quote:
I wonder where the "three bags of marijuana" came from. Cop: "Let's see I've got my gun, ammo, cuffs. mace, marijuana... Yep, ready to roll."

badbob
being on the narco unit it's not unlikely that he had some confiscated evidence in his squad car or - worse yet - deliberatly got some out of lockup for this very purpose.
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