92 year old woman killed in shootout with police

This is a discussion on 92 year old woman killed in shootout with police within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; http://wsbradio.com/news/112106officersshot.html (WSB Radio) Three Atlanta Police officers are recovering at Grady Hospital after they were shot in northwest Atlanta by an elderly woman. Deputy Chief ...

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Thread: 92 year old woman killed in shootout with police

  1. #1
    Member Array General Geoff's Avatar
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    Three Atlanta officers down in a warrant service gone bad

    http://wsbradio.com/news/112106officersshot.html


    (WSB Radio) Three Atlanta Police officers are recovering at Grady Hospital after they were shot in northwest Atlanta by an elderly woman.

    Deputy Chief Alan Dreher says they were trying to serve a drug warrant at a home at 933 Neal Street just before 8 o'clock Tuesday night.

    "As they knocked and announced their presence and forced the door open, it took some type to get the door forced. Once the door was forced open, a female perpetrator inside the premises began to fire at the officers, the officers returned fire," said Dreher.

    "As a result of the exchange of gunfire, three of our investigators were hit by gunshots. One of our investigators received a graze wound to the face. He was shot in his bullet-proof vest, and he received a gunshot wound to the left leg. Another one of our investigators received a gunshot wound to the left leg, and the third investigator received a gunshot wound to his right arm," said Dreher.

    The woman killed has been identified as 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston. She had lived there nearly 20 years.

    Dreher says their agents, who were in plain clothes, have been on the force for some time, and were justified in the shooting.

    "It looks like everything was done by the book. They had a search warrant. It was for the proper address. They knocked and announced and they forced the door when there was no response at the door," said Dreher.

    Johnston's niece, Sara Dozier of Fayette County, said her aunt was only trying to protect herself from a neighborhood where there is a lot of criminal activity.

    "I'm sure she panicked. Just two weeks ago, it was on the news, somebody kicked the door in and yelled 'Arrest: Fulton County Sheriffs.' It was a break-in, a robbery, and I'm sure all of this went through her mind," said Dozier.

    Johnston says her aunt never had anything to do with drugs.

    "My aunt has never seen a drug, not to mention take one. The lady lived a good, clean, wholesome life, and they go in there and shoot her down like a dog," said Johnston.

    "The only thing that is in that house is a laxative. My aunt takes a laxative every other day. She's a firm believer that if you flush the system, the system does not break down. There's nothing else in there," said Johnston.

    Dreher said they were serving a narcotics warrant there because they believed drugs were being sold in the house.

    "I'm as mad as hell. The neighbors know where the drugs are, damn it, ask the neighbors! They killed her. They shot her down like a dog and I'm upset. Somebody is going to answer to it, because I'm going to sue like hell! I'm going to sue like hell. Let Atlanta know that," said Johnston.

    What would you have done in this situation? My take is that I'd:

    A) check out the window for police cruisers;
    B) loudly announce that I'm calling 911 to verify their identities; and
    C) loudly announce that if they force the door before I verify who they are, they WILL be leaving with more bullets than they brought.


    Other than that, it seems she was quite justified in her response, especially given the area's police impersonator home invasion history. It's just a shame it had to end like this.
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  3. #2
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    It's an impossible situation. Just as with suicide bombers, it's nearly impossible to stop a dedicated masquerader. Wolf in sheep's clothing. Can't imagine what I'd do differently.

    It's almost a zero possibility that a truckload of police armed with a warrant will be satisfied to merely chat through a closed door. They're going to break it down, in a case of non-response. They're almost certain to break it down in cases of the door not immediately opening.

    Criminals know that these are the simple realities of police responsibilities when serving warrants and apprehending suspects. They're leveraging it to the point where the innocent are left with two options: (a) fire at the incoming "officers"; or (b) submit and, in the case of a masquerade, be at the mercy of the invaders. There are no nice solutions.

    From the BG's perspective, masquerading is a brilliant tactic. From the police perspective, it's got to be a nightmare in spades. And the citizen is left with no options but to comply ... masquerade or not. Either that, or we've got the death of modern policing on our hands, with a bloodbath about to ensue (if everyone were to defend against presumed masquerading).
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    VIP Member Array PatrioticRick's Avatar
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    A) check out the window for police cruisers;
    B) loudly announce that I'm calling 911 to verify their identities; and
    C) loudly announce that if they force the door before I verify who they are, they WILL be leaving with more bullets than they brought.
    Seems like both parties were justified

    A) If they were plain clothes, would they be driving regular police cruisers to see out the windows?
    B) Loudly yelling is better than staying quiet, at least some communication.
    C) might be considered more of a threat.
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  5. #4
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    It seems apparent that there was a massive screw up somewhere here but I don't think we have enough details at this point to reach conclusions about the incident . I am not at this point going to second guess the officers actualy serving the warrent , or the homeowner . Nor will I make any of the several snide comments that come immediatly to mind about no knocks in general .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
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  6. #5
    Senior Member Array GoodSamaritan's Avatar
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    A bad situation all around.

    I know one thing, I am now considering a reinforced door of some type. There aren't too many on the market that would stand up for too long against a determined assualt, but there are plenty that would make it take considerably longer. Of course the door itself is only part of the equation. The door jamb and locks would have to be up to the challenge as well.

    If you can sufficiently slow them down long enough to determine whether they are gg's or bg's. Even a few seconds could make all the difference in making the right decision.

  7. #6
    Member Array Double Naught Spy's Avatar
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    "My aunt has never seen a drug, not to mention take one. The lady lived a good, clean, wholesome life, and they go in there and shoot her down like a dog," said Johnston.
    So many things are wrong with this statement. First, it seems in error with other comments about how bad the neighborhood and the fact that apparently drugs are common in the area.

    Johnston's niece, Sara Dozier of Fayette County, said her aunt was only trying to protect herself from a neighborhood where there is a lot of criminal activity.
    The neighbors know where the drugs are, damn it, ask the neighbors!
    I have no doubt the old lady had seen drugs.

    And the comment about shooting her down like a dog is just stupid. There is no indication that the old woman was frothing at the mouth, was chained to a post, or in a cage and put down. No, they shot the old woman as they would do with an apparent highly motivated and fairly well armed drug dealer who had opened up on them and was cutting them to shreds in what would have appeared to be an attempt to evade capture/arrest.

    Obviously, it is a bad situation. There is no indication that the officers were there to slay the old woman like a dog. In fact, there isn't anything to suggest they were there to slay anyone.

  8. #7
    Senior Member Array PaulG's Avatar
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    OK. I'll be the bad guy and bring up "no knock warrants".

    I feel for both the LEO's and the deceased.

    But I think the need to protect individual freedom and safety supercedes the need to catch the drug guys.

    In this situation, it appears that everyone acted appropriately and an apparently innocent woman died.

    We all like to think that the fact that we are good guys will protect us from having our door kicked in by the good guys.

    She reacted the same as I would. If someone kicked in my door yelling that they are the police, I wouldn't believe it because I don't do criminal things.

    Even if it turns out that this was a drug house, it was reasonable for the woman to believe that the guys on the other side of the door were up to no good.

    My heart goes out to everyone involved in this sad situation.

  9. #8
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    This wasn't a no-knock, according to the article:

    "It looks like everything was done by the book. They had a search warrant. It was for the proper address. They knocked and announced and they forced the door when there was no response at the door," said Dreher.
    A sad and tragic series of events, to be sure.

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  10. #9
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    Seems this "no knock" policy needs to go back to the courts. We (in this country) seem to be losing more of our Rights to LEO's. BG's need to be taken out, but at the expense of our freedoms? Seems LEO's need much better intel before breaking into a private home no matter where it is located. An innocent person is dead because of bad intel. Like it or not, better to caution than to kill.

  11. #10
    Senior Member Array Musketeer's Avatar
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    While not techincally a NO KNOCK it might as well ahve been. We all know the game LEO's play where they will knock and wait about half a second before breaking in the door.

    We need to do away with dynamic entires once and for all with the exception of situations where there is an immediate risk to the life of an innocent. This woman is dead because of sloppy work by the LEOs. If the department had simply observed the house for any length of time before busting in they would have seen this little old lady. If they needed to they could have grabbed her, or any other home occupant, as they left to get the mail, take out the garbage or do any other routine function.

    We have a judicial system based on the principal that it is better that guilty men go free rather than imprison the innocent. When it comes to the honoring of our rights as free Americans though law enforcement and the courts have taken the view that combating drugs and capturing those trafficing in them is more important than repecting those rights.

    I feel bad for the LEOs who were doing their job and feel horrible for the old lady who was defending her life as best she could. The fault is with the system that allows such criminal behaviour in the guise of law enforcement to continue.

  12. #11
    VIP Member Array Old Chief's Avatar
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    LEO's make a mistake, someone dies and they are justified. I dont think so.
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  13. #12
    Member Array Spectre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulG View Post
    But I think the need to protect individual freedom and safety supercedes the need to catch the drug guys.

    In this situation, it appears that everyone acted appropriately and an apparently innocent woman died.
    Everything was done by the book...but three officers have been shot and an innocent 92 yr old woman is dead. My conclusion is that the book needs to be rewritten.

  14. #13
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    "Deputy Chief Alan Dreher says they were trying to serve a drug warrant at a home at 933 Neal Street just before 8 o'clock Tuesday night."

    "'It looks like everything was done by the book. They had a search warrant. It was for the proper address. They knocked and announced and they forced the door when there was no response at the door,' said Dreher."

    Some ninety-two-year-old women are in bed by "just before 8 o'clock" every night. Some of them might not make it to the door in a timely manner, at least for law enforcement officers who are contemplating a dynamic entry to prevent suspected law-breakers from fleeing/destroying evidence/arming themselves.

    I agree that this is tragic for everyone. A ninety-two-year-old woman, who quite possibly thought she was under criminal assault (we'll never know), is dead. Three officers are wounded, but it does sound as if they will recover, which is a blessing. Those who returned fire must live with the fact that they killed a ninety-two-year-old woman who, at least for now, seems to have been completely innocent; no one with a conscience wants to live with that.

    Spectre's (and others') conclusion that the book needs to be re-written is spot-on in my opinion. IIRC, the McLennan County Sheriff had visited the Branch Davidian compound several times and had always just walked up to the door, knocked, and gained admittance. We are putting too many law enforcement officers and citizens at risk with the current practices, and something needs to be done differently. Those far more expert in these matters than I must determine what that is, but we don't need any more of these tragedies.

    P.S. Someone (if new information does not reveal any evidence of prior wrongdoing on the part of the deceased woman) needs to have a serious heart-to-heart with the CI who provided her address to law enforcement.

  15. #14
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    Knocking Down The Door...

    and only finding an elderly woman? Could there be a 'rule' in the book about a possible 'stake out' to determine who is IN the house? Would another day...or three...have made a difference in serving the warrant?
    What a waste of human life!

    What will happen if 'they' come to take firearms?

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  16. #15
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    Additional Information...

    Link of news conference:

    http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/myfox/pa...Y&pageId=1.1.1

    The conference continues on another link that you can access from the above (be certain to click the play button).

    Apparently, a purchase of suspected drugs was made from a male at the address earlier in the afternoon. Suspected contraband was removed from the residence afterwards. Police are investigating to determine if Ms. Johnson had any connection with the male. They are currently unaware of any criminal history she had, or whether she was even present at the time of the afternoon buy. It was definitely a no-knock warrant. The breaching (plain-clothes) officers were in raid vests.
    Last edited by falcon1; November 22nd, 2006 at 03:24 PM.

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