Sunday, May 06, 2007

More on the death of Kathryn Johnston

Demonstrating that the 'say anything to get a warrant, etc.' mess was indeed an ongoing problem, Balko has this:
The 80-year-old Thompson was in her bedroom the afternoon of Sept. 20, when she heard a terrible crash and shouting. Startled and confused, she grabbed a pistol and was immediately confronted by three Atlanta narcotics officers.

"They had masks covering their face. I thought I was being robbed," she recalled. "They pointed those big guns at me."

The two incidents share striking similarities: Two elderly women living alone with guns; police battering in a door; faulty reports from street-level dealers helping narcotics officers; and police parsing the truth, if not outright lying.

And take note of this:
The team did not have a no-knock warrant as they did in the Johnston case. But narcotics agents are allowed to quickly batter in a door if they hear the residents scurrying around, presumably hiding drugs, or if they hear nothing. The team that day heard nothing, the police report said.
Got that? If they hear you 'scurrying around', they can kick in the door; and if they DON'T hear anything, they can kick in the door. Just freakin' unbelievable.

He notes that the judges who've been in the habit of signing these warrants, often under conditions that should have told anyone with three working brain cells that something was wrong, need to be dealt with also. However,
Fulton magistrates don't plan on making any policy changes, said Stefani Searcy, court administrator for Fulton County State and Magistrate courts.

"I'm sure the judges, not just here but across the state, are concerned about whether officers are telling the truth," Searcy said. "It's a problem that has to be handled internally by the police department."

"Because we clowns in black robes have NO responsibility in this, no sir, none at all!"

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