Kathryn Johnston: One Year Later

Radley Balko has an update and look back on the Kathryn Johnston case. To briefly recap, a number of Atlanta PD Narcotics officers arrested an ex-con on trumped up charges, the paid informant that bought drugs from Johnston’s house never existed, the cops tried to coerce one of their past informants into posing as the made up informant, the warrant was obtained via made-up evidence, and the police essentially murdered a law abiding citizen. Johnston, while getting off one shot at the officers who were illegally breaking into her home, did not wound any of them. The officers were shot by each other or ricochets and/or fragments from their own return fire that killed Johnston, a 92 year old woman. The end result, a no-knock raid gone horribly, horribly wrong. Police murdered an innocent woman. Yet despite this we still have SWAT units running amok,

In February of this year, 16-year-old Daniel Castillo, Jr. was killed in a police raid on his family’s home in Texas. Castillo had no criminal record. A SWAT officer broke open the door to the bedroom as Castillo, his sister, and her infant son were sleeping. When Castillo rose from the bed after being awoken to his sister’s screams, the SWAT officer shot him in the face.

In March, police in Spring Lake, Minn., acting on an informant’s tip, raided the home of Brad and Nicole Thompson. The couple was forced on the ground at gun point and warned by an officer, “If you move, I’ll shoot you in the f___ing head.” Police had the wrong house.

In June, a 72-year-old woman on oxygen was thrown to the ground at gunpoint in a mistaken drug raid near Durnago, Colo.

Today I was watching Transformers with my son. On the side of the police car Barricade, a bad guy, is the phrase, “to punish and ensalve…”. Art imitating life I guess.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Policing, US Politics, , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. Steve,

    Not wanting to sound like a nitpicker, but the 72-year-old woman was actually 77, and the 16-year-old, actually 17. Radley’s mistakes became yours also.