Skip to comments.Possible Indictments Against Police In Kathryn Johnston Case
Posted on 02/08/2007 8:45:35 AM PST by from occupied ga
| (WSB Radio) Fulton County's top prosecutor plans to seek charges against several current and former Atlanta police officers in the fatal shooting of an elderly Atlanta woman.
WSB's Veronica Waters reports lawyers for three officers have been informed that Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard will take the case of Kathryn Johnston's shooting before a grand jury February 26. The proposed indictment would include 17 charges, including felony murder, burglary, aggravated assault, making false statements, violation of oath of office and criminal solicitation.
Newly retired Atlanta police officer Gregg Junnier has been cooperating with the federally-led joint investigation into Johnston's death. He has told authorities that in order to get the no-knock warrant 933 for Neal Street, the officers lied to a magistrate in saying that an informant had made a cocaine buy at that address. They targeted the home after acting off a tip from a recently arrested dealer.
Rand Csehy, a former assistant Fulton County district attorney who prosecuted narcotics cases, is now a defense attorney and is representing Junnier.
"We were not surprised," Csehy tells WSB. "We've been hearing the saber rattling out of the D. A.'s office for a couple of weeks now."
The notices to attorneys for the officers came one day after Howard exchanged open letters to Reverend Markel Hutchins, the spokesman for Johnston's family, after Hutchins publicly called on Howard's office to recuse itself from the investigation. Hutchins says the case is too far-reaching for local authorities.
"I will tell you emphatically that Ms. Johnston's death and the circumstances surrounding Ms. Johnston's death had very little to do with the personnel on the scene and everything to do with the policies that were in place and not enforced," Hutchins tells WSB.
Calling Johnston's death "outrageous," Howard's letter emphasized that it is "the obligation" of his office to act when homicides occur in Fulton County.
"The death of Mrs. Johnston constitutes one of the greatest tragedies ever to occur in Fulton County. I will not rest until every person responsible for her death is held accountable. Accordingly, my Office will continue to work jointly with the U.S. Attorney's Office, the F.B.I. and the G.B.I. to conclude this investigation," Howard wrote.
Yet the U. S. Attorney's office and the FBI say they were not notified by the D. A.'s office that Howard was notifying the officers of possible indictments against them Wednesday.
"We were cooperating with this joint investigation, and we're saddened by the fact that the district attorney's office has decided to break with the joint investigation, it's my understanding, with this pre-emptive indictment," says Csehy. "All our good works, everything that we werethat the investigation was trying to accomplishapparently has been thwarted at this point."
Csehy calls the indictment, which would levy 10 to 17 charges against Junnier--an 18-year veteran of the APD--and narcotics officers Arthur Tesler and Jason Smith, "overbroad' and says prosecutors will not be able to find facts to support it. Csehy says he and Junnier have steeled themselves for battle.
"We will fight this; there will be a trial in this case. We will not plead to anything, we will not cooperate with the Fulton district attorney's office. We will not admit to anything; there's nothing in these charges to be admitted to," contends Csehy.
He also emphatically responded, "absolutely not" when asked whether Johnston's death was, in fact, a murder by any Atlanta police officers. He says the narcotics officers believed there were drugs in Johnston's house and that someone other than Johnston lived there and sold cocaine at that address.
"The shame of this and the heart of this is the intelligence they'd gotten did not even tell them that Kathryn Johnston was even living there," Csehy says. "At the worst, this is sloppy police work, or police work done under pressure to make arrests. But to say there's malfeasance here? Absolutely not."
Johnston, whose family says she was 92, was killed in a shootout with police who burst into her home one night in November. She kept a gun in case of break-ins, and began firing when she heard the door being kicked in. Junnier and two other officers on the seven-member team were wounded. Prosecutors say a couple of the officers then went to an informant and asked him to lie and say that he had made a buy at that address.
When the case goes before the grand jury, the officers are allowed to hear the presentment and to make statements to the panel if they choose.
Thursday, 8 February 2007
Anything that reduces the use of SWAT teams in non-violent situations is a good thing.
. "At the worst, this is sloppy police work, or police work done under pressure to make arrests. But to say there's malfeasance here? Absolutely not."
shows what absolute contempt the police have for human life (other than their own precious hides of course) The oh Gee we killed an old lady, too bad, maybe we'll look first next time and maybe not attitude disgusts me.
The million dollar question is if it is true that the informant was asked to lie. If so murder charges are most appropriate.
No need to these guy are very probably guilty.
Howard is as political and as incompetent as they come - and that's saying A LOT with the likes of Nifong out there.
When this first happened the police changed their stories several times a day. So they don't have a lot of credibility.
I doubt there was an 'informant' at all. Most likely the cops just made it up.
If that's so the charges should be upgraded to Murder 1.
For all I know this is a ploy to make sure they aren't successfully prosecuted.
"The million dollar question is if it is true that the informant was asked to lie."
What? You are going to wait for evidence before declaring the individuals guilty of pre-meditated murder? You must be new to FR. ;-)
What they need to do is have the border patrol do these raids. That way if they wrongly shoot someone people will call them hereos. Hell, at least the old woman was armed.
With Paul Howard on the case that may not be so far from the truth.
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