Patterico's Pontifications


Two Cops Who Killed Kathryn Johnston Plead Guilty — to Manslaughter

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:45 pm

CNN reports that the officers who shot Kathryn Johnston have pleaded guilty — to manslaughter:

A police officer and a former officer pleaded guilty Thursday to manslaughter in the shooting death of a 92-year-old woman during a botched drug raid last fall. Another officer still faces charges in the woman’s death.

Officer J.R. Smith told the judge Thursday 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 warrant.

Former Officer 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. Both men are expected to face more than 10 years in prison.

It’s not enough. We now know, based on the plea, that these officers lied to get into that house. This was a felony murder. These men should never again see the light of day.

When this case was first reported, I urged people not to jump to conclusions, and I continue to believe that was the right call. However, in the comment section to my posts, I made some comments to the effect that, based on the information then available (service of a valid search warrant at an address where suspected narcotics were recovered), Ms. Johnston was at fault for shooting at the police. Since that information has proven to be incorrect, those comments were wrong. Making matters worse, I didn’t qualify my statements every time I made them, so that, for example, I said: “If she fired first and shot 3 cops, then shooting her was eminently justified.” Well, not if they busted into her house based on a phony search warrant! — something we now know to be the case.

If you read the entirety of the thread, it’s clear that my main point was that people should not leap to the conclusion that the warrant was served at the wrong location. I still think that was a valid point to make. But my sloppier comments — especially the unqualified ones like the one I just quoted — are an illustration of the dangers of commenting off the cuff. Now that we know Ms. Johnston did nothing wrong [UPDATE: or, at least, there is good reason to believe she didn’t — see UPDATE below], I regret any suggestion I made to the contrary, and I apologize to her memory and to her family — not that they will likely ever see my apology.

I don’t promise to refrain from approaching issues in a cautious manner, and I don’t promise to leap to conclusions in the future. That would be the wrong lesson to learn from this incident. But I will do my best to avoid making sloppy comments. This incident has taught me that people sometimes pay as much attention to those as they pay to my more carefully crafted posts.

UPDATE: Several commenters are arguing that the validity of the warrant is a wholly separate issue from whether the shooting is justified. I disagree. They are not the same issue, but the issues are intertwined to a large degree.

When looking at the actions of the police, the fact that the warrant was based on lies (and the cops serving it knew that) is critical. If the police were committing a felony when they served the warrant on Ms. Johnston’s home — because they were breaking into a home based upon what they knew to be a trumped-up justification — then they can’t escape the consequences for causing Ms. Johnston’s death by arguing self defense. They set the tragedy in motion by committing the felony to begin with. If I legally walk into a store and the owner pulls a gun on me, I may shoot and kill him. If I rob a store and the owner pulls a gun on me, it’s a different situation entirely. If I shoot and kill him, it’s murder.

When looking at the actions of Ms. Johnston, the fact that the warrant was based on lies is less relevant, but still meaningful. I don’t agree with the argument that an innocent homeowner has the right to shoot at police if they properly identify themselves as serving a search warrant. The innocent homeowner doesn’t know whether the warrant is trumped-up or just a mistake, and to authorize the homeowner to shoot under those circumstances invites anarchy.

However, the fact that Ms. Johnston was innocent, and actually being victimized by dirty cops, has relevance to assessing her actions. First, it makes it much more likely that the police didn’t properly identify themselves, and that she actually thought she was protecting herself against criminals. The police might claim otherwise — but now that I know they lied to get the search warrant, I’m not inclined to believe anything they say. So while we don’t know that Ms. Johnston did nothing wrong, it now seems a much more likely scenario.

76 Responses to “Two Cops Who Killed Kathryn Johnston Plead Guilty — to Manslaughter”

  1. Pat: Don’t beat yourself up so much, that’s our job remember.

    As to the 10 years for the manslaughter plea, that might just be the start of it. If the USA for Atlanta has any guts, these guys will be facing civil-rights violations too. Add those in, and (if they’re lucky) they might get out in time to start drawing their soc. sec.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  2. Ah, yes, six months later–the facts are in, the hard work’s been done door-to-door, deliberations done behind closed doors, souls searched, questions asked and answered, justice weighed, and the useless apology to the victim’s memory and family rendered. But, wait, where are the howling hyenas? The totally idle speculation? The Us versus Them chest thumpers? Give us Duke rape! Give us VaTech mass murder! Give us 92-year old ladies shooting down cops in cold blood. Gives us red meat! Lots and lots of stinking red meat. Just don’t give us real information and time to reflect. Don’t insult our manhood with that shit. We want to get our anger off, and we want it NOW. We got a hard-on for the man in the mirror, so don’t get in our freaking way or we’ll blow you to kingdom come. That’s our viral discourse in America. Our addiction. And you, Pat, are just another pusher man.

    Asinistra (81b8a7)

  3. An odd comment in response to a post where I talked about not jumping to conclusions . . .

    Patterico (5b0b7f)

  4. I am a little confused as to how the validity of the search warrant affects whether Ms Johnston was right to shoot at the officers since she had no way of knowing the warrant was invalid.

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  5. I am a little confused as to how the validity of the search warrant affects whether Ms Johnston was right to shoot at the officers since she had no way of knowing the warrant was invalid.


    aunursa (a8f837)

  6. When the police or others in authority abuse the public trust, punishment should be swift and severe. In addition, society and its citizens should try to fix what went wrong to prevent it from happening again. This case suggests that Atlanta needs to review its no-knock warrant process, but there may not be any sure answer if the problem is police officers who decided to lie.

    I sympathize with Ms. Johnston and her family. Incidents like this are sad and wrong. However, sometimes bad stuff happens to people who don’t deserve it, and the best the law can offer is to punish the offenders.

    DRJ (50237c)

  7. Shearer, aunursa:
    The point is not whether nor not Johnston knew the warrant was invalid, the point is that the warrant was invalid. Remember, this was a “no-knock” warrant, which was “served” by shouting “Police!” before breaking down her door.

    A person who is not, in fact, a criminal has no reason to believe that the person shouting “police” right before breaking down their door is, in fact, an officer; Mrs. Johnston had no reasonable expectation that three armed and armored officers were, in fact, the people gaining rapid entry to her home. On the other hand, were she in fact engaged in criminal enterprise, the entire episode could be explained away as “criminal shoots police executing lawful warrant”, rather than “innocent civilian attempts to defend herself against home invasion”.

    Rick Wilcox (71646f)

  8. I am a little confused as to how the validity of the search warrant affects whether Ms Johnston was right to shoot at the officers since she had no way of knowing the warrant was invalid.

    Well, if the cops lied to get into the house, I no longer believe them if they claim they identified themselves as police, either. Plus, if they committed a felony in entering the house, the shooting is their fault even if they *did* identify themselves. It’s like if you rob a store and the clerk pulls a gun on you and starts shooting — you don’t get to kill him and claim self-defense.

    Patterico (5b0b7f)

  9. Patterico,

    I appreciate your post. I haven’t reread every comment you wrote on this subject but I admire you for writing this if you feel it was necessary. Nevertheless, I think it is obvious why you didn’t qualify every comment you made on this subject with “Assuming the police didn’t lie …” This is a blog. It’s supposed to be spontaneous and topical, with each conversation wandering among various issues as they are raised and discussed. There is value to discussing the numerous other “What if’s?” that were presented by this case.

    When this story broke, no one outside the Atlanta PD knew what happened and nobody can credibly say they knew the police lied to get a warrant – except perhaps NK who felt this was bogus from the start. Kudos to him for that insight but I don’t think the overall point is whose gut instincts works best. The point is to consider these subjects as thoroughly as possible, and you did that.

    DRJ (50237c)

  10. In a lawful society, why should we ever have to qualify an informed opinion with “unless the police are lying…” ?? In a lawful society, a policeman who lies in the line of duty ought to be such a rare case that it makes national news. Alas, we do know better, don’t we?

    As with others, I didn’t (and am not going to) go back and read your original posts, but I think this one hit the mark sufficiently.

    Frank H (5c621d)

  11. I am a little confused as to how the validity of the search warrant affects whether Ms Johnston was right to shoot at the officers since she had no way of knowing the warrant was invalid.

    The reason it matters is because the cops had no business entering the house.

    rosignol (a65822)

  12. Buried deep in the version of this story that I read, they tucked a little gem:

    It seems that the old woman fired exactly once, through her door, and didn’t hit anyone. The officers returned 39 rounds, five or six of which hit her and killed her. It’s now thought that the wounded police were struck by “friendly fire”.

    So not only did they lie about the warrant, but the early reports that some of the cops had been wounded by her were lies.

    Steven Den Beste (99cfa1)

  13. I wonder now what we’ll find out about the system now that they’ve plead guilty.

    The Judge who is supposed to know the law and protect the citizens signed off on a sketchy warrant. Didn’t ask enough questions regarding the requested warrant. Wonder if there will be any legal consequences.

    Same for the DA.

    Too late for Mrs. Johnston.

    You know, it’s ‘funny’. Americans, and probably people the world over, hate criminals. But corrupt cops and abuse of enforcement power? People of all social/economic strata can rally together and put a stop to that.

    GaMongrel (c940d3)

  14. I am a little confused as to how the validity of the search warrant affects whether Ms Johnston was right to shoot at the officers since she had no way of knowing the warrant was invalid.

    The warrant doesn’t do anything to whether Ms Johnston was in the legal right to shoot at the officers. Ms Johnston wasn’t at trial, here, for obvious reasons.

    The false claims made by the police, however, turn this from an unfortunate side-effect of the drug war protected by the concept of sovereign immunity, to something different. Making false claims to a judge never falls under someone’s duties.

    gattsuru (85e0cf)

  15. “I am a little confused as to how the validity of the search warrant affects whether Ms Johnston was right to shoot at the officers since she had no way of knowing the warrant was invalid.”

    You should be-his views make no sense.
    Patterico said,

    “Making matters worse, I didn’t qualify my statements every time I made them, so that, for example, I said: “If she fired first and shot 3 cops, then shooting her was eminently justified.” Well, not if they busted into her house based on a phony search warrant! — something we now know to be the case.”

    The implication here is that if cops busted into her house on a valid search warrant, her shooting was eminently justified. But the fact that they busted into her house on a PHONY search warrant makes her shooting eminently unjustified.

    Got it? A homeowner defending her house will be either justified in doing so, or not justified in doing so, BASED ON WHETHER PAPERWORK, WHICH SHE HAD NO WAY OF KNOWING ABOUT, IS DONE CORRECTLY-NOT BASED ON HER OWN ACTIONS OR BEHAVIOR, OR HER OWN REASONABLE UNDERSTANDING, AT THE TIME.

    So if you defend your own home, you may either be justified in doing so or go to prison for the rest of your life depending not on the behavior of the police/intruder at the time, not on what a reasonable person would do in the same circumstance, but rather based on whether paperwork is in order at the county courthouse. You have no way of knowing anything about that paperwork, you have no way of judging anything about it when strangers break into your house, but if its good, you go to jail. If its bad, you justifiably defended your own home.

    Sorry, dude. You were wrong the first time, and incoherent this time.


    Sk (95c8c7)

  16. I have to dissagree with you. When she fired at the police, she had no idea that the warrent was on false grounds. That is for lawyers to debate-when it was served it was a LEGAL AND BINDING court order and it would have been overturned by her lawyer. By allowing citizens to shoot police because there might be a technical violation is not the best policy. That said, the cops deserve all the punishment since she is now dead, but do not forget if she had not shot at the police, she would be alive.

    Jweaver (f1046f)

  17. Sk –
    You’re seriously missing the point, and hanging on to minutiae that are the symptom of the issue at hand. Patterico, rosignol, gattsuru, and I have already explained this point once; let’s see if you get it this time.

    If the warrant was valid because Kathryn Johnston or her domicile was engaged in the illegal drug trade, she had no right to “defend” her home from the police, and as such could not be necessarily shown to be acting in good faith and self-defense because she could have a reasonable expectation of police involvement and entry. Since we now know that the warrant is phony because Kathryn Johnston and her domicile were not engaged in the illegal drug trade, that implies that she had no reasonable expectation of having her door broken in by the police, and thus was justified as acting in good faith self-defense.

    Rick Wilcox (bb4b76)

  18. Patterico:
    A lot of “real” murderers (first-degree) are allowed to plea to manslaughter and get 10 years. Especially given the prospect of a jury’s natural reluctance to go any harder than that on police, the prosecutor probably made a “good” deal (even if we define the good rather narrowly as using his resources to maximize jail sentences).

    Sk, et al:
    The flaws in the warrant of course affect how we feel about the police’s culpability. As you note, they do not of themselves affect how we should feel about the old woman’s culpability. However, if the warrant were scrupulously obtained, that would mean that > the residents were drug dealers, not an innocent old lady. As such, they should know that people are apt to bust in yelling “police” — and that shooting them will likely lead to a death sentence, of one sort or another. An innocent woman shot in the course of serving an honest, but mistaken, warrant is still a tragedy — and may make us rethink our commitment to a violent “drug war” — but it is not a crime.

    Suppose the warrant were instead an honest mistake, but the police busted in on an authorized “no-knock” and the old woman shot at the police, who shot back, but she then survived to be arrested. The police would indeed have been justified in shooting at her, and should not be prosecuted. But it would appear that a reasonable person in her shoes might feel justified in shooting, and she also should not be prosecuted. If she were, and I were on the jury, I would most likely acquit her (depending on details).

    It would be wrong for her to be prosecuted for the shooting if she were innocent of the drug-dealing. And I doubt that would happen if she were “squeaky clean” — but I expect she would be — unjustly — prosecuted if someone found a joint in her ashtray, or some other BS drug link not justifying a no-knock raid.

    DWPittelli (87ad39)

  19. The no-knock statute is flawed. So blame the legislature. Why can’t the police properly identify themselves and have a warrant verified before searching? I suppose that they’re afraid that somebody will flush an oz of drugs down the toilet before they can sieze them as evidence. They’re too lazy to go to the building superintendent and shut off the water before starting a search. So we’ve created an unsafe enforcement situation in our zeal to prosecute minor drug offenses.

    William Graves (78825f)

  20. I am a little confused as to how the validity of the search warrant affects whether Ms Johnston was right to shoot at the officers since she had no way of knowing the warrant was invalid.

    This incident comprises two distinct, and only somewhat connected, issues: whether the cops did something improper and/or illegal, and whether the old lady did something improper and/or illegal. We now know the cops were wrong. But that doesn’t give the lady the right to do whatever she wanted, especially since she did not know the cops were breaking the law at the time she started shooting.

    As to whether or not the old lady was right to shoot through the door, that shouldn’t depend on, as Rosignol(#10) says it should, the circumstances upon which the cops banged on the door. Whether they were there because they lied (as in this case), because they mistakenly thought the house was actually part of another residence (as with Corey Maye), or because they went to the wrong house because of a typo on the search warrant, the legitimacy of her actions depends (at least according to me) on the extent to which she had reasonable grounds to believe her life was in danger and whether her actions were appropriate given the threat she believed she was facing.

    And to jump to the wrap up, I saw nothing in any of the writeups to make me think it was okay for her to shoot (whether through the door or, as originally believed, at the cops), because someone banged on her door and yelled ‘police’. And, Patterico #8, even if they didn’t yell ‘police’, I hope you’re not suggesting that banging on someone’s door gives the resident the right to start blasting through the door. If so, I hope no door-to-door salesman ever knocks a bit too loudly… and I’d also have to think twice about banging on someone’s door in the middle of the night to warn them of a fire if doing so may result in my getting shot.

    Sure, as Rick Wilcox(#7) suggests, being a law abiding old lady, she may not have thought there was a legitimate reason for the police to be banging on her door… but she also had no justification for jumping to the conclusion that the people at the door were, real cops or not, there to do her harm. They could have been real cops there by an honest mistake. They could have been a couple of neighborhood kids playing a prank on her, banging on her door to scare her (not nice, but not such that justifies her shooting through a closed door).

    steve sturm (40e5a6)

  21. Rick, a “domicile” cannot actually “engage” in any conduct, including illegal drug trade. People within a domicile may be engaging in such trade, but not the domicile itself.

    Suppose, for example, that, she had a grandson living in her house and she didn’t have any idea that he was selling drugs from there. Nobody ever told her, the police never asked her to evict the grandson. Does that mean that if anybody busts down her door at 3am screaming something at her as she wakes up that she’s not entitled to exercise her right to self-defense? In such a case, I think the legal answer is probably that she has a right to shoot at the intruders, while, if the warrant has been properly issued, the police have a right to shoot back.

    Such a scenario demonstrates why no-knock warrants should be issued far more rarely than they seem to be today. If someplace really is a crack den, ready to flush the evidence in seconds, full of gangsters with Glock’s ready to start a full-blown shoot-out with the police, then there ought to be more evidence of that than a single, solitary “buy” by some unidentified undercover agent.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  22. They’re too lazy to go to the building superintendent and shut off the water before starting a search.

    Not that I’m in favor of the War on (Some) Drugs, but that wouldn’t prevent the first flush.

    Rand Simberg (e2f3bb)

  23. Steve, did she shoot after they merely knocked on the door? I understood that she shot after they burst through the door, screaming.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  24. According to this New York Times report, she fired after the police officers had removed her burglar bars as they were in the process of “ramming” through her door. I don’t know about you, but I know the difference between “knocking” on my door and trying to “ram” through it. It sounds different. If I hear somebody trying to ram through my door, I’m probably going to shoot before they can get all the way through. If I wait until they get through the door, I’ll be dead before I can get the shot off. It doesn’t take long for an intruder to run 10 feet across the living room.

    And I’ll shoot even faster if I had already heard them taking off the burglar bars before trying to ram through.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  25. I would think that someone will not fire through a door unless it is already in the process of being smashed open, i.e., broken, cracked, and swinging inwards after being hit with a breakdown tool.

    Most people might be ready with a gun if they see multiple black garbed shadowy figures running up to the house, unannounced, and then suddenly smashing – not banging – in the door. Then most people will shoot since they think bad guys are now in the act of actually entering the house.

    If I yell at the same time as someone else actually hits a door with a break open tool no one will ever hear what I yelled over the bang and cracking noises of the door and door frame and tool.

    A 92 year old person is not likely to have sharp hearing or eye-sight but seeing cracks appear in the door and it breaking down would make most people think bad things are about to happen. So shooting then is likely to be the last possible act she knwos she will make to stop intruders willing to break down a door. Otherwise, whether it is the police which she may not have any reason to expect or bad guys the next thing is she gets pounded by whoever it is, unless the gunshot makes them go away.

    O (89d0b6)

  26. As Steve Sturm (20) points out, there are two questions here, one involving the old lady, & the other, the cops.

    It seems to me that the question about the old lady is simply whether she had reasonable cause to believe that her person or property were in danger, and therefore was justified in using deadly force. If someone yells police & starts breaking down your door at 3 am, and you are a 92 year old law abiding old lady, it strikes me that it’s probably reasonable not to wait to find out if the guys breaking down your door are lying or not. It also seems to me that a handgun is probably your only practical option for resisting. A frying pan probably wouldn’t work. But that’s why we have juries.

    As for the cops, I don’t know if Patterico was driving at this, but there is a rule of law called the felony/murder rule. That rule is that if you are engaged in committing a felony, and someone dies as a result, you are guilty of murder. It applies even if the person who is killed is your accomplice, and he is killed by your victim. It applies if the victim dies of a heart attack. You get hit with a murder rap.

    There’s also a misdemeanor/manslaughter rule in some jurisdictions, I think.

    Perjury in obtaining a warrant is a crime, and executing the warrant is part of the crime, or maybe a separate crime in & of itself. This is what turns what the cops did from a tragic error of the “wrong house” variety into, at a minimum, manslaughter.

    Patterico, this sentence of yours – “I don’t promise to refrain from approaching issues in a cautious manner, and I don’t promise to leap to conclusions in the future” – seems not to be what you were trying to say. Shouldn’t it be “I don’t promise to APPROACH issues in a cautious manner, and I don’t promise NOT to leap to conclusions in the future”?

    harmon (eeaaea)

  27. I have updated the post to address the argument that the lies and the justification for the shooting are different issues.

    harmon, what I meant by that sentence — and I may not have expressed it well — is that I don’t apologize for being cautious and not leaping to conclusions. Hence, I don’t promise to engage in such behavior in the future, because I don’t think it was wrong for me to engage in that behavior in the past. But I will try to remember that people sometimes pay as much attention to comments tossed off in the heat of the moment as they do to thought-out posts.

    Does that make sense?

    Patterico (5b0b7f)

  28. It should be noted that the current police chief, Richard Pennington, is the former New Orleans police chief. IMO Atlanta made a huge mistake in hiring him. NOPD is a mess, I wonder how long it will take him to screw up Atlanta PD?

    roux (09a786)

  29. I don’t see the fundamental reason for the cops’ actions to begin with.
    Why would they purposely raid a place they had reason to know was without criminal behavior?
    Was it easier than raiding known drug sources?
    Were they looking for fun?
    Or did they make a mistake on an address prior to getting the warrant? Or did they make a mistake on the address upon arriving in the area?
    The shooting, coverup, and all that followed, is one issue. The other, which I have not seen covered, is why they bothered to start.

    Richard Aubrey (67d560)

  30. I am not a lawyer, but I was under the impression that in most states there are statues that say…

    “If someone dies in the commission of a crime then you can hold the criminal responsible for their death.”

    I don’t think this is necessarily a question of whether or not the police were justified to shoot, but more along the lines of this:

    If you steal a car and a policeman chases you down and then accidentally drives off a bridge in the following chase at 85 mph they hold the criminal responsible. Even if the criminal did not directly cause the policeman to drive off the bridge. I think they are holding the police responsible in the same manner.

    Cliff (595a25)

  31. Rick Wilcox,

    Since we now know that the warrant is phony because Kathryn Johnston and her domicile were not engaged in the illegal drug trade, that implies that she had no reasonable expectation of having her door broken in by the police, and thus was justified as acting in good faith self-defense.

    Exactly right, Rick. Our now having additional information does nothing to change the information Ms. Johnson had. Her justification for shooting is entirely dependent on her understanding of the circumstances at the time of the shooting.

    She had no reason to have a reasonable expectation that her home could, would or should be the subject of a no knock warrant. She therefore had no reason to believe that the people who broke down her door and invaded her home were policemen executing a valid warrant.

    The righteousness of her actions can only be based on her knowledge, not ours. If armed robbers start yelling “police” while conducting home invasions, are you supposed to let them in?

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  32. Yep-
    Patterico and the rest are confused about two issues: the proper behavior of police, and the proper behavior of an individual in his house when confronted with armed intruders breaking in.

    The warrant impacts whether police behaved properly. It has no impact on whether the homeowner (whether innocent old lady, drug dealer, or suburban white guy defending his home) has acted correctly.

    The specific behavior of police (Whether they busted the door down, whether they announced their identity before doing so, when they shot, whether they were clearly identified AS police, etc etc) impact the proper behavior of the homeowner (whether drug dealer, or innocent old lady, or suburban white guy defending his home). The PRESENCE OR ABSENCE OF A PROPER WARRANT HAS NO IMPACT ON WHETHER THE HOMEOWNER, WHOMEVER HE IS, BEHAVES PROPERLY!

    You folks seem to think that a homeowner, who knows he is guilty of something, is obligated to allow armed stranger to enter his house on the presumption that they might be police, and a homeowner, who is not guilty of anything, is justified in shooting armed strangers because he has a reasonable assumption that they aren’t going to be police. This is simply an absurd expectation-as I already said, this leads to the ridiculous conclusion that you seem to accept that the justification for home defense depends upon the paperwork on file at the courthouse.

    House defense is either justified or not based on whether the homeowner is guilty of something or not? What’s the limit of guilt? Drug dealing (including marijuana dealing)? What about moonshing? Outstanding warrants for drunk driving? Outstanding warrants for parking?

    Pretty clearly, home defense must be justified or not based on what a reasonable person feels as a life-threatening situation-not on his uninformed calculations of the likelihood of the armed intruders being properly documented police or armed thugs.

    Your views are particularly absurd as applied to drug dealers/criminals themselves, who are more likely to be threatened by armed strangers than law-abiding citizens.

    I realize that the implication of this is that no-knock warrants are basically NEVER justified, because the homeowner, whomever he is (drug dealer or not), can’t be expected to hand control of his life over to armed strangers merely because he should assume they are police. So be it.


    [I find it bizarre that you claim I am “confused about two issues: the proper behavior of police, and the proper behavior of an individual in his house when confronted with armed intruders breaking in.” I separate those two issues quite clearly in my update, which was posted before your comment was. — P]

    Sk (95c8c7)

  33. So, if they hadn’t lied to get the warrant, and instead had just been mistaken (or believed a mistaken informant, or accidentally transposed numbers on the house address), would it be okay for a completely innocent person to defend her home against honest officers enforcing a legal warrant?

    How’s the homeowner supposed to know all the background information about the people breaking down her door and react properly in the few seconds she’s got to make a decision? Using military tactics in civilian policing seems absurd in most cases, regardless of the (pre-determined, I guess) guilt or innocence of the target. It endangers cops and civilians unnecessarily.

    Chris (8a26d2)

  34. I am in agreement with those that believe that the legitimacy of the warrant has no impact on how the victim chose to defend herself.

    This was an old woman who apparently lived in a bad neighborhood. She hears noises and grabs her gun. Someone shouts police. She isn’t a criminal and has no reason to believe that the police would be breaking into her home, so she shoots in a premptive attempt to defend herself. Even if the warrant had been valid, so was her attempt to defend herself.

    “No Knock” warrants are a bad idea and this tragic event is yet another example of why they should not be allowed.

    Dan Palmer (014a72)

  35. Sadly, this elderly woman’s death is the result of govt. policy that places a higher priority on getting law enforcement’s hands on the evidence versus the threat to life and limb these armed raids present to the residents or the police officers involved. The no-knock raid was instituted some 20+ years so as to prevent suspects from disposing of the incriminating evidence before allowing the warrant to be executed. As a result, there’ve been numerous “isolated incidences” like this one in cities large and small over the years.

    But I guess it’s more important to stop folks from doing what they want to do versus the safety of the citizenry at large, so this death won’t be the last.

    P.S. It’s not a War on Drugs or even a War on (Some) Drugs, but rather a War on People.

    RandMan (587951)

  36. Patterico:

    Your statements are typically extremely cautious and conscientious. Partly for that reason I think when you put your toe over the line into emotion and speculation it stands out all the more. Not everyone understand that process matters, and this issue has been a prime example of it. The warrant process is not alway perfect moral justice, but it is a uniform standard that makes a decent proxy for moral justice. That’s why it’s there folks, and that’s why it matters whether or not it is followed. Breaking it must come at some risk (which touches on 4th A. suppression issues as well as this case) or else it means nothing, and all that’s left is a million individuals yammering on where moral justice lies in each individual case.


    biwah (2dcf66)

  37. Just offhand, I would doubt that the two officers, although sentenced to only ten years, would ever leave prison on their own feet.

    Bill Brown (030fb1)

  38. Forget whether Mrs. Johnson was justified in shooting – justified or not, she’s already been executed for it.

    The question here is what we do about the people who shot her. They lied to get the warrant, and they did it carelessly. Mrs. Johnson was killed by the police as they were busy committing a felony, and that brings it up to Murder One, not just a lousy manslaughter rap. At the very least, the cop who lied to get the warrant needs to be put away for a long, long time. And if the cops who pulled the triggers knew the warrant was a lie, they should go to the pen with him, to keep him company.

    Dr. Ellen (a2edb9)

  39. In response to the commenters like Dan Palmer who take the position that

    the legitimacy of the warrant has no impact on how the victim chose to defend herself.

    If Kathryn Johnston were on trial, you’re partly right. It would be about her reasonableness in genuinely believing that her life was in danger (and obviously whether she genuinely had that belief to begin with). Her own criminal activity would come into play in that police, giving every indication that they were serving a legit warrant (as opposed to criminals coming to physcially harm her), should not come as a great surprise to someone who is a drug dealer. IOW, a drug dealer had better surrender to the cops when they break down the door, because his self defense argument will be weak. Even that drug dealer, however, can make the argument that he had reason to believe they were dirty (or fake) cops coming to kill him. And he would have a hard time selling that argument, but if he succeeded – acquittal.

    Here, of course, it’s the cops on trial, and the legitimacy of the warrant is front and center.

    biwah (2dcf66)

  40. Ditto to #24 and #25:

    What we know:
    * She’s 92
    * time=1900h (dark outside)
    * she was law-abiding, not “expecting arrest”
    * she was armed at the time of entry
    * she shot through her closed door

    What we can assume:
    * she had bad hearing and eyesight (does anyone know if she had a heading-aid? in? glasses? on?).
    * SHE believed she lived in a bad enough neighborhood to need a gun within 1-second-reach for a 92-yr-old (or the cops were so incompetant in their no-warning-raid as to allow a 92yr old to notice them arriving in the dark but not know they were cops).
    * she fired “through her door” … meaning the door was closed when she fired … meaning she could not see cops/uniforms at the moment she fired at the people breaking her door down
    * at 1900h, many old people are half-asleep … certainly not fully-awake & weapons-ready-alert

    Assume you are a 92-yr-old, it’s 1900h (dark out and many old people may be not-very-awake), have weak or imperfect hearing and eyesight and live in the kind of neighborhood that needs a gun-at-hand … you hear a huge noise and your door is hit by something (a thug’s foot?) to break the lock and rape/rob/kill you. The first hit does not burst the door open (otherwise she could not have hit the door) and they kick/hit again … she grabs a gun from her nightstand and fires to prove to the door-smashers (that she does not know are cops) that the occupants are armed.


    To reverse #4’s logic that we should not allow the public to shoot at cops when they execute scream & smash raids …

    When a 92yr-old neighborhood-paranoid scared-awake woman alone DOES NOT KNOW that cops are breaking in her door and has no expectation that cops ever would, but has a high expectation that thugs would (or have in the past) … do you really think she’s thinking “COPS”? … she thinking “CRACKHEAD THUG, I’ll scare him off and go back to sleep now”

    Do you really want that woman to ask her screaming door-breakers if they have a warrant when her 99.9% expectation is crackhead-thug?

    Speculation: maybe once the door WAS open, she saw they were cops and held her fire (she only did fire ONCE).

    Odd question: HOW did the cops get in the line of projectiles for friendly-fire? Either they were climbing in the windows behind her and were directly in the line of fire (and yet had not scoped the room) AND some idiot fired in the direction of other cops or some idiot was not aiming downrange or some idiot fired through a closed door and ricocheted into the cops adjacent to him.

    Odd question 2: do we KNOW that she fired first? Given that the cops planted drug evidence in this case, do we KNOW that shey didn’t post-action put a gun in her corpse’s hand and fire it into the door to cover their a$$#$? (if HER gun was an unregistered, illegal or serial-filed-off, I might suspect it was a cop-sock-drop-gun … after all, if they planted evidence on little notice, that would mean that they have this screw-up happen often enough to carry evidence to plant with them).

    Specifically, a good door-smashing should have opened the door on the first hit, leaving her no door-panel to shoot into. How long does a eveningtime 92yr-old take to 1: alert 2: recognize danger 3: reach for a gun, however close (on TOP of all her side-table-papers, newpapers, crossword books?) 4: ?unsafety? 5: ?load/chamber? 6: aim 7: squeeze trigger. The door should have been open long before she could prepare and aim at it (or the ATL PD door smashers are ineffective).

    So … for the one shot that she fired … DID SHE FIRE WHILE SHE WAS ALIVE?

    Sarnac (4dfd78)

  41. […] 92 years old and not respecting their authority, she needed to die! Posted on April 27th, 2007 in Interesting, Hypocrisy by Bill (No Ratings Yet)  Loading … PATTERICO HAS MORE on the Atlanta cops charged in the Kathryn Johnston no-knock raid gone wrong. […]

    WetWorx » Blog Archive » 92 years old and not respecting their authority, she needed to die! (9eeb68)

  42. A cop defending “no knock” in talk politics guns a few years back kept insisting that his bunch never kicked doors on innocent people, therefore no cops anywhere in the US kicked doors on innocent people. Sarcastic suggestions that they should save money and just go ahead and kill whoever they were raiding just bounced off.

    Finally, one of the posters stated that as he was not a criminal, he should therefore assume /anyone/ banging on the door and claiming to be a cop was a crook pretending to be a cop and simply open fire. That seems to have finally penetrated the idiot cop’s smug self rightiousness and shut him up.

    Drug dealers with records know they can survive criminal charges, but not shooting at police. As a result, drug dealers are a favorite target of home invaders, who try to gain entry by claiming to be police as they kick down the door.

    The root of the problem is not the cops. The root of the problem is the elected officials in the area. They are the ones who we should be after, as they are the ones who are supposed to be controlling what the cops do.

    Phillep (77ba7d)

  43. What if the warrant was completely legit but simply mistaken? Suppose Johnston was the local Girl Scout cookie cupboard manager. Speaking as a “cookie leader” I take a lot of ribbing from friends, family and the other girl scout leaders about being a “junkie dealer” but seriously, I’ve got people driving up to my house at all hours taking out small packages, and my cell phone rings all the time.

    Ok, cookies are a bit bulky and the boxes are recognizable at a distance, but a particularly productive avon or mary kay salesperson might also have lots of traffic as a constantly changing array of customers came by, and their packages would mostly be small and bagged up. If some wacky paranoid neighbor became convinced that the local avon lady was a drug dealer, would you see the same kind of outcome?

    cathyf (6d1f33)

  44. The fact that they even got a warrent based on the “word” of a “CI” in the first place is troubling.

    The situation is now that a couple of crooked cops and a willing “CI” means they can pretty much do what they want.

    Gerald A (bbd183)

  45. Where a warrant is erroneous but the error is made in good faith, it validates any searches and seizures made pursuant to the warrant. It would also tend to exonerate the police facing homicide charges as here. But I don’t think it can reasonably have any bearing on the resident’s self-defense claim.

    The Good Faith exception to the warrant requirement usually applies to typos and the like, but even if the police were mistaken on the factual basis for suspicion (like cookie traffic etc.) the resident/shooter would have their basic innocence to stand on. They would probably also need a reasonable fear that bad cops or impersonators would come busting in.

    biwah (2dcf66)

  46. Agreed – felony murder. But I’d add “under color of authority”, a particularly nasty variation.

    mojo (8096f2)

  47. One thing may be overlooked here: Southern folks know and love the Constitution; prominent there is the guarantee of “freedom from unreasonable search and seizure”, which people have every right to expect and demand. This springs from the old English common law which held that “a man’s home is his castle.”
    Break in at your own risk.
    The lady was clearly a citizen soldier defending her Constitutional rights.

    Johnny (8ca946)

  48. I don’t agree with the argument that an innocent homeowner has the right to shoot at police if they properly identify themselves as serving a search warrant. The innocent homeowner doesn’t know whether the warrant is trumped-up or just a mistake, and to authorize the homeowner to shoot under those circumstances invites anarchy.

    Agreed, but how do they “properly identify themselves”? An 88 or 92 old lady is likely to be rather hard of hearing, at the least, and some people are totally deaf. Shouting louder doesn’t make speech easier to understand – it makes it louder but more garbled. If there are several men shouting together, unless they’re a trained chorus it’s garbled even more. And that’s assuming they aren’t ramming the door or otherwise making noise while shouting “police”, and ignoring that they, by intention, just woke the homeowner up from bed. My hearing is perfectly fine, but I doubt that I’d understand that noise outside my door – and if I decided to shoot at whoever was coming through it, no body armor is going to save the first man, because I’d stick with what I’m most experienced in – a rifle, not a pistol.

    Second, from the pictures I’ve seen, cops on such raids aren’t dressed like cops, they look like thugs or stormtroopers. For example, after the Elian Gonzales incident I noticed that absolutely nothing identifying him as police was visible anywhere on the one that wound up in that photo pointing a submachine gun rather near the kid. Eventually I found the whole series of photos on where a newsman had followed him as he ran through the house – he did have a badge on his chest, but in about 8 shots there was just one where a part of it was visible around his arms and weapon. I certainly don’t want cops shot, but if you look like an invader and act like an invader…

    At any rate, if you’re after drug kingpins, no knock raids aren’t going to do the job; (1) you’re looking for more drugs than can be flushed away in a few minutes, and (2) you aren’t going to find it at the kingpin’s house. Making other people take the fall is one of the privileges of a kingpin. If you’re after street dealers who can flush away their stash, no knock raids seem excessive.

    markm (e346d7)

  49. “As to the 10 years for the manslaughter plea, that might just be the start of it. If the USA for Atlanta has any guts, these guys will be facing civil-rights violations too.”
    Comment by Another Drew — 4/26/2007 @ 6:28 pm

    A lot will depend on who the USA for Atlanta is and what that person’s background in civil rights is. Given the news that’s been popping up about Gonzalez’s DOJ and how USAs are chosen, it’s a crap shoot.

    D Tinsley (013ccb)

  50. Sk –
    Would you kindly stop making pretty little straw men out of my and others’ arguments? Again you harp on the warrant, and again I say that the warrant is the telling symptom, not the end-all-be-all root, of the issue at hand. With the warrant being shown to be completely invalid, it is fairly well patently obvious that Ms. Johnston was acting in good faith and self-defense. If the warrant were merely mistaken, it would make Ms. Johnston’s position just as clear. It is only if the warrant were based on proper information and correct that Ms. Johnston’s motives for firing at the police could be reasonably called into question. The point, repeatedly stated in what I would see to be plain English, is “If the warrant were valid, it’s possible that she could have had a reasonable expectation of police visitation and as such might not have been acting in good faith; if the warrant is invalid or mistaken it is rather clear that she had no reasonable expectation of police visitation, and thus is much more likely to have been acting in good faith”. Yet you still take these words to mean “If the warrant were valid, she wasn’t justified, and if the warrant were invalid, she was justified”. Please learn the difference between inductive and deductive logic.

    Rick Wilcox (bb4b76)

  51. I think I’m gonna send the cops a case of lube – they’re gonna need it

    jmo (acf35e)

  52. jmo,

    Not funny. Prison rape is not a joke.

    Patterico (e49662)

  53. Pat,
    You’re right. Well, unless you’re Aaron McGruder. Then it’s a running gag for an entire episode.

    Rick Wilcox (bb4b76)

  54. Out of curiosity, is there any legitimate reason for police to be carrying around baggies of marijuana and cocaine? The officers must have had those on them if they were able to plant them as evidence.

    PC (623835)

  55. Rick-
    You are in your living room. You hear a pounding at your door, men shouting, the door is broken down, you run to your bedroom, grab your gun. Can you use it? Can you shoot those shouting, armed men that just broke down your front door? If those shouting men yell at you to drop your weapon, does it make a difference? If they yell at you that they are police, does it make a difference (remember, if they are shouting that they are police, and they are lying, you’re dead).

    Now, do the answer to those questions depend on whether there is a warrant out for your arrest? Do the answers to those questions matter whether you are engaged in some form of illegal activity for which you think there could be a warrant out for your arrest (but you have no way of knowing whether there is in fact one)?

    I am arguing no-that any human being confronted with that situation would reasonably fear for his life, would be entirely justified in shooting the armed men that just broke down his door. I am even arguing that drug dealers would be justified in doing so, because their life and death decision (whether the police are real or not, much less corrupt or not) depends on information that they would have no way of acquiring during their panicked sprint from the living room to the bedroom.

    As far as I can tell, you seem to think that drug dealers (and other people with warrants?) don’t enjoy such a right-they are obligated to allow strangers with guns to break down their front doors and disarm them, hoping that those strangers are police and not assailants, because as drug dealers, they should expect to be arrested. Do I have that right?

    Perhaps you should more clearly explain who forfeits his right to self defense. We know drug dealers do. Do you mean all drug dealers? Marijuana sellers? If a teenager is selling marijuana at school does his dad forfeit the right to self defense, and thus must allow strangers with guns to break down his front door because he suspects his son might get arrested? What if the dad doesn’t know about it, but the son does? Warrants for missing a court date? For parking tickets?

    What you are failing to see is that whether the old woman (or anyone) are guilty of anything doesn’t change the entirely justifiable and natural fear that person would feel if strangers with guns broke down their front door. You’re trying hard to avoid the implications of what you are saying, but the warrant is your whole argument. Strangers breaking down innocent people’s doors are justifiably shot-NOT BECAUSE THE DOOR OWNER IS INNOCENT, BUT BECAUSE THE DOOR BREAKERS ARE STRANGERS. The existence of a warrant, or the behavior of the door owner, doesn’t change that.


    Sk (95c8c7)

  56. Not funny. Prison rape is not a joke

    You’re right, but what is being done to stop it? Any wardens indicted? Correction officers? Those in position of power to prevent rape? How much punishment is meted out to those who commit rape in a system where inmates are considered lower than pond scum?

    The attitude appears to be that if you’re in prison, you deserve whatever you get there, so get over it, suck it up (literally!) and do your time.

    Mitch (a549f7)

  57. 55

    Actually prisons are quite a bit safer than they used to be. The current incidence of prison rape is probably being exaggerated.

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  58. Actually prisons are quite a bit safer than they used to be. The current incidence of prison rape is probably being exaggerated

    I hope you’re right, not that I plan to find out for myself. However, given the criminalization of peaceful behavior, one never knows.

    Mitch (a549f7)

  59. It appears that it is even worse than the CNN article had it.

    Note that the morons in uniform planted evidence not once, but _twice_ in order to provide excuse to kill Ms Johnston.

    Dave (6001a6)

  60. Perhaps other cops who think busting into a house for small coke deals is a good thing

    will reconsider.

    nick (b5d255)

  61. Boil some eggs to hardboil without breaking the shell. About half an hour at very low heat. Then practice putting both of your thumbs through them. You can do the very same thing to a rapist’s eyes.

    nk (49aa3f)

  62. Why Mr. Patterico, I’m surprised at you.

    An experienced prosecutor who has never heard of testilying in the application for a warrant in drug cases?

    What do you prosecute, traffic tickets?

    It goes on in every jurisdiction in America. It is so common that there is a name for it. And yet this all comes as a surprise to you?

    The MO in the Duke Hoax must have been used against many in the Durham area.

    The police in this case said that what went on was SOP.

    Heck, there was a police misconduct bit that made the rounds of the blogs a while back about a drug case gone bad where the officer claimed it couldn’t be misdconduct because it was SOP.

    The Drug War is corrupting the system in the same way alcolol prohibition did and you find such tales hard to believe.

    Well after all you are a prosecutor. Can’t have the yokels thinking the system is corrupt. It might reduce funding. So it goes on and the stench gets worse and when the devil asks for his due it is going to cost more.

    Oh well.

    One day the train will crash. May you be in another line of work by then.


    Well the police need to be better trained. That is for sure. Never, ever, try to pull this crap on a sympathetic victim or one who can afford to lawyer up. Or you might get a name for yourself. Nifong ring a bell?

    M. Simon (957841)

  63. #53 Comment by PC — 4/27/2007 @ 11:35 am,

    Out of curiosity, is there any legitimate reason for police to be carrying around baggies of marijuana and cocaine? The officers must have had those on them if they were able to plant them as evidence.

    It is back up. You wouldn’t want to serve a warrant and not find the evidence. Judges might get suspicious after a while.

    Besides it is easier to convict if you have evidence.

    And what better way is there to insure evidence is found than to bring your own? Think of it as a labor saving device. What is easier to find than stuff you brought with you?

    M. Simon (957841)

  64. Patterico,

    I briefly followed the back-and-forth between you and Radley Balko back when this incident first occurred and perhaps, because of my anti-War on Drugs bias, I was predisposed to discount your arguments. While Balko might have seemed too favorably inclined to believe that the police officers were guilty, it seemed to me at the time, that you were too favorably inclined to believe they were innocent.

    However, I give you props for posting an update on what happened with case, when you could have just as easily ignored it. You’ve done your readers an invaluable service by keeping them updated with how this case turned out.

    I continue to believe the War on Drugs is one of the most horrific government programs ever enacted by the government. Radley Balko has documented numerous cases in which drug busts have lead to unfortunate consequences such as this. In this particular case, the police officers turned out to be real crooks. But in the larger picture, its not law enforcement that is the problem. It’s the government program itself that is the problem.

    The War on Drugs needlessly puts good police officers (who I believe are the vast majority) in harm’s way while creating the environment for such corruption as ensnared these two police officers.

    No good can come from the vast powers that the government has granted law enforcement officers to wage the government’s War on Drugs. Today, SWAT teams are storming the houses of people with drugs that politicians have deemed illegal. Tomorrow they’ll be used to storm the houses of people with guns that politicians have deemed illegal.

    nicrivera (c7b165)

  65. #47 Comment by markm — 4/27/2007 @ 9:58 am,

    At any rate, if you’re after drug kingpins, no knock raids aren’t going to do the job; (1) you’re looking for more drugs than can be flushed away in a few minutes, and (2) you aren’t going to find it at the kingpin’s house. Making other people take the fall is one of the privileges of a kingpin. If you’re after street dealers who can flush away their stash, no knock raids seem excessive.

    There are not enough king pins to sustain a war. So they have to go after whomever they can find. We have a whole underground of secret police and snitches. Have to keep the stats up if you want to be officer of the month, don’t you know. Those unproductive raids are just so unproductive.

    Did I say War? We have whole neighborhoods all over America that are not too different from Chicago in the Roaring 20s. You know the neighborhoods. You know where Interzone starts and ends. Yet we have hardly any one inside the system speaking out against this rot.

    I talked to a local prosecutor once at an open forum. She said drug cases were overwhelming the system. I suggested handing the drug problem over to people competent to deal with it. Doctors. The best I can say is that she avoided saying that it was beond the power of the justice system to do more good than evil in this case. She did grimace and grit her teeth.

    We had all this crap in alcohol prohibition. You would think that a college educated prosecutor might have studied that bit of American history.

    Heck, the USSR had similar difficulties with its anti-contraband programs Even with a police state they couldn’t keep on top of it. It corrupted everything. Now there is a clue.

    Hear the latest one about applying drug war tactics to a gun prohibition regime? You keep up a bad policy long enough and people get ideas. No knock raids. Cordoning off areas for block searches. Raids at 3 AM. Gun owners are up in arms.

    Yet we have a prototype of just such a policy in the Drug War and how many complaints do you get? Just a few cranks like me.

    M. Simon (957841)

  66. M. Simon #61:

    That’s quite a speech based on something I never said.

    Let me reciprocate.

    It is interesting to hear you say that every single police officer, without exception, lies every time they testify in court. I can assure you that I have seen officers testify truthfully, and to hear you assert that it never, ever happens is disappointing.

    What’s that? Your statements were distorted?

    Well, now you know how it feels.

    Patterico (5b0b7f)

  67. It’s been said well above in several posts, this so called war on dugs is beyond a dismal failure! No wonder we can’t find Bin Laden, Christ we can’t even secure our own borders!

    But for sure the one thing we are getting better at is terrorizing our own citizens, killing them at what could be called an alarming rate! Folks protecting THEIR OWN property! Also at an alarming rate is they are more and more facing what may as well be our military in doing so, which of course results in the death of another taxpayer!

    Oh and average take when they actually do find drugs, oz’s! Not pounds and pounds, ounces and who knows how many of those did not arrive with the so called cops?! You save this bust for the “good” guys?

    When you continue to perform the same experiment with repeated results time and time again and the results are not worthwhile, then it’s time for a change of tactics, RIGHT?

    I’ll refrain from suggesting that some laws may need to be evaluated by the citizens directly!

    As far as using caution when these reports come at us, hey 2+2 still equals 4! The frequency with which our cops are killing us for what appears to be sport, phark em. I may not express my feelings at the time, but know I’m smelling some old meat so I’ll caution just as readily but for alternate reasons.

    I’m but 53, extreamly hard of hearing, Kant see shit either, but, middle of the night intrusion into my home, first man gathers lead, which of course means that I too will gather some. My only hope is that I send one or more to HELL for ignoring my 4th amendment RIGHTS! You will find that under the constitution of the USA! (Well what little is left of it)!

    Asswipe cops like those in ATL? They should be hung in the public square! Can there be anything worst to a citizen than being Nifonged by a COP packin both a warrant and a gun?!!!

    TC (b48fdd)

  68. Let me tell you what I think, it will be just as valid as what you guys think.

    Which is: Not valid at all in the big picture of things, because the government and most of its agencys are out of control and it seems we can’t do anything about it.

    I control as much as possible what happens to me and my family.

    I will take action in any situation I don’t agree with or where I think that danger or unknown results ill occur. This is from being ripped off by a store to a threat to me or my family.

    If I have someone trying to break down the door of my home, I will give one verbal warning, then if it persists I will fire one warning shot and if it persists, then shoot to kill.

    That is my right and moreover, it is my responsibility.

    Those cops murdered that older lady. She was protecting herself. The only thing that she did wrong was not firing all the rounds in her weapon.

    Anything other than that is bullshit.

    Papa Ray
    West Texas

    Papa Ray (035e8c)

  69. Oh, I forgot to leave a disclaimer.

    Some of my best buds are city cops and county deputies, we drink and b-b-que together quite a bit.

    Most have bad feelings against those that are “members” of the “drug task forces” and “swat teams”.

    I could go into that but sufice to say, they think that most of them are “throwback cowboys” and not real law enforcement officers.

    They also feel that the drug war is a bust and should be discontinued at the street level. One officer told me that if he is having a slow night, or is tired of driving around, he will go out and stop a few cars and find drugs (easily) and then go back to the station, enter the subject into the system and fill out paperwork (usually about two hours)and usually its time to knock off. He knows that the system is overloaded with drug users and he knows that they tie up the system and he knows that they will be back on the street in a day or so. But he doesn’t give a shit anymore. Mainly because he is underpaid, overworked and not listened to by his bosses.

    The tipping point is near folks,

    Buy more Ammo

    Papa Ray
    West Texas

    Papa Ray (035e8c)

  70. Patterico,

    What if you have a case where the warrant is valid but either contains the wrong address or is bone-headedly served on the wrong address? If the homeowner reacts in the same manner for the same reasons as Mrs. Johnston and is killed by the police, should the police be held criminally liable?

    Jerri Lynn Ward (9f83e6)

  71. Sk –
    Until you can engage in honest debate, and respond to things I have actually said, rather than your pretty little straw men of my words, intentions, and beliefs, I have nothing further to say to you.

    Rick Wilcox (0c08e1)

  72. Jerri, IMHO, in that scenario a valid warrant should be the difference between manslaughter charges and felony murder charges.

    markm (e346d7)

  73. Do we KNOW she was alive when the shot was fired from her gun (into a closed door, before she could see that it was cops not thugs blasting her door open)?

    If the door-breakers are any good, that door should have been open long before a 92yo could think,react,reach,grab,unsafety,vaugely-line-up,fire a handgun, however closely she kept it near where she sat.

    Conversely, given that the cops planted drug evidence, are we CERTAIN that they did not assist her corpse into firing that shot (and that it was her gon and not a drop-gun?)

    Sarnac (4dfd78)

  74. You may be interested in the domain:

    It is presently being sold at auction at

    The direct auction link is located here:

    Chris (aee6e1)

  75. There is no way that the legality of defending one’s self can be tied to the validity of a warrant. A warrant is not a statement of guilt. Even if it were not for the fact that some 50% of legal warrants result in no evidence, the mere fact that a valid warrant is served does not, or at least should not render the subject of the warrant ‘guilty.’

    What does determine whether a citizen has the right to defend their home with force has a lot more to do with the tactics used by the police on entry. When a no-knock no-announce warrant is served leading to an unannounced dynamic entry, the citizen has every right to defend their home against violent intrusion regardless of the validity of the warrant, and indeed regardless of their guilt – they have no way of knowing who is breaking into their home.

    If a no-knock no-announce warrant is issued which results in the death of an innocent citizen, I do agree that it is not so much the front-line officer at fault for defending himself when confronted by a firearm. In those cases, the judge issuing such a warrant for a nonviolent offender should then be charged with murder (i.e. right address, no offender in residence) or negligent homicide (i.e. wrong address), and if the justification for said warrant was manufactured, then throw conspiracy to commit murder in on the officer.

    At least then the incidents of unnecessary no-knock no-announce raids will have some measure of curtailment.

    Gunny Freedom (a6a19f)

  76. It’s to bad the old gal did not take two or three of them with her to the pearly gates.

    bob (f1505e)

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