Update on the Johnston Case

It looks like the impossible has finally happned. The cops who shot and killed Kathryn Johnston are going to face murder charges. Typically when a police officer shoots an innocent pretty much nothing happens to the officer. They get what amounts to a slap on the wrist and the county, city or state forks over a large settlement when a civil suit is brought. District Attorneys typically cut the cops a great deal of slack when it comes to questionable shootings (e.g. the Sal Culosi case), but not this time. I guess there was so much about this raid/shooting that stank that the DA finally had to bring charges.

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.

Based on all the information reported in the media over the past several months it seems pretty clear that these officers lied to a judge, obtained a warrant based on those lies, then broke into Kathryn Johnston’s home and when Johnston defended herself they shot and killed her. If this is indeed what happened I hope all three police officers are convicted and go to jail for a very long time.

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.”

I think the Johnston family is being overly optimistic. The FBI likes their no-knock raids and it seems possible that a federal investigation could clear the officers of any wrong doing.

Via Debunkers.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, 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. anjin-san says:


    If you have a moment, could you refer back to the “Thanks Barack!’ post from Tuesday,


  2. Arcs says:

    If this is indeed what happened I hope all three police officers are convicted and go to jail for a very long time.

    Go to jail for a very long time? I think a Georgia-sponsored bird flu vaccination at Jackson would be more in line.

    More likely, though, is they’ll plead out to manslaughter or less.

  3. Edrea says:

    The fact is that the tactics used for this warrant is not a unique incident. What made this illegal police act “sexy” for the media was the fact that Kathryn Johnston was an innocent 92 year old and lived alone. Thank goodness for that because if a man had lived with here – son, husband, or roomer – he would be “Sam” and doing time right now.

    Let’s keep in mind that the police do not work alone. More than a few people have to become involved in the corruption that goes on.
    The judges who sign questionable warrants as well as the DA’s who take many of these cases to trial, or to a deal, knowing full well that something is rotten in Denmark.

    These police officers and others like them would not do this unless they knew they could get away with it.

    As for the FBI, they’re on the same mission as Paul Howard and his department – to convict by any means necessary. The FBI has the opportunity to look like the moral police this particular time. They should know what to look for since they employ a few of these practices themselves. Although, they’re a little smarter and cover themselves on the front end.

  4. Elaine says:

    I think charges should wait until the FBI completes there investigation. Let them take the charges not the DA that is too close to the case. He has been involved since day 1. I feel he may be trying to cover his involvement. In the beginning he was backing the officers on the news now he is charging them.