The facts that are coming out are very, very bad for the Atlanta cops in that Johnston case.
The other day we heard that, according to the Assistant Chief, the warrant was obtained after “an undercover officer made a drug purchase at Johnston’s address.”
Today we hear that it wasn’t an undercover officer who made the purchase, but rather a citizen informant.
And it gets worse: the informant is now claiming that police asked him to lie:
An informant who narcotics officers say led them to the house where an elderly woman was killed in a drug raid is accusing the officers of asking him to lie about his role, Atlanta police Chief Richard Pennington said Monday.
The informant, who has not been identified, complained to department officials that the drug investigators involved in the bust had asked him to go along with a story they concocted after the shooting, said Pennington. He said the informant had been placed in protective custody.
A few comments here.
First: we don’t know for sure if the informant is telling the truth, but the police don’t look too good regardless. If he’s telling the truth, and if the police really did this, they should go to prison. And if they didn’t — if their informant is lying — it doesn’t say much about his reliability.
Second, it is unconscionable that the Assistant Chief was claiming that the warrant was predicated on a buy by an undercover officer, when it was, in fact, predicated on alleged information from an informant. There have been many apparent conflicting statements coming out of the Department, but that particular one is inexcusable. The warrant has been released (link via Gaius Obvious) and it clearly says it’s predicated on a buy from an informant. Whoever is responsible for so badly misinforming the public should be fired.
We’re now looking at a multi-agency investigation of this incident. All eight members of the narcotics unit have been suspended. I hope the investigation gets to the bottom of this.
In the meantime, I had hoped to publish my interview with the use of force expert this morning, but it wasn’t ready. He has interesting observations regarding the shortcomings of the planning of this raid. I plan to publish that tomorrow if at all possible.
P.S. I do not apologize one bit for being cautious and wanting to stick to the facts in analyzing this story. Many commenters here who are beating their chests over their amazing predictive powers should ask themselves whether they thought that investigation by the police and media would lead anywhere. I remember a lot of those chest-beaters confidently predicting that nothing would ever come of an investigation; those people have swiftly been proven wrong. We know much more today than we knew even yesterday, and facts will continue to come out.
I will always be of the view that we should wait for the facts to come out before making confident declarations about anything. Clearly labeled speculation is fine, and is often very helpful. But ignoring known facts and leaping to definitive conclusions is, in my view, never a good idea.