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Update on Atlanta’s distaste for single, elder women’s property defence

Friday, November 24, 2006 5:53 AM
Current mood:  attentive 

Category: News and Politics


Local station, WRAL, actually provides a pretty good updated summary  (text of article follows my remarks, because we all know these newslinks don’t last long).


She did live in a high crime neighborhood.

The officers were dressed plain-clothes.

They did not “knock,” instead they knocked her door down.

I am especially impressed that not only did she hit all three of these dudes knocking down her door, but one of them she hit three times, scoring not only a graze wound to the face, but a direct hit in the chest—of course, he had on a Kevlar jacket. 

How the hell was she supposed to know that *she* would also need a Kevlar jacket?

Also, as I alluded, the APD is now alluding they did find narcotics in the house.  They’re running tests to confirm it…  what I’m wondering: why can’t they simply tell us the name(s) written on her prescription bottle(s) from which they no doubt collected these “narcotics,” you know, while we wait for “official” results.  Anybody wanna place some bets on whether they’re gonna try to justify this based on a 92-year-old woman’s regular prescription medication?  Right now I say 1:2.8 return that they do.

Why would three younger middle-aged men burst into a house:
            well-known to belong to a single 92-year-old woman,
         situated in a high crime district,
      without knocking
   while they were probaby shouting and screaming,
and feel they should be able to do this without being fired upon? 

Maybe because 92-year-old women are supposed to be sedate and vulnerable? 

There are age and gender issues here that hopefully will not get lost, if and when that race card gets played.  CNN curiously reported, “Johnston had no children and her closest relative was a 75-year-old niece, neighbors said.”  If you’re a male, let’s say younger than 70, you may think nothing of that additional piece of reporting.  I, however, was raised by my grandmother who was born in 1901 and died in 1990.  Believe me, there are underlying messages in this story about how and where a woman of a particular age is “supposed” to be.

There is something very wrong with this story, and while it’s possible it may “only” be “mistaken identity,” the follow-up stories are more consistent with something else afoul. 

There is no legitimate, acceptable reason this woman should not be breathing, healthy, enjoying life today.  Please think twice before you fall into patterns of thinking “What did she expect to happen, a woman of her age, living alone in a bad neighborhood?”  “Maybe if she’d married and had children of her own she could have been living somewhere else better, and not alone,” or “”I’m sure they clearly said they were the police; she should not have fired at the strange men who busted into her house.”  Sinking back into complacent, status quo thinking is a symptom of complicity.

(16:09 24.11.2006)  P.S.  Another blog on this with a slightly different spin, focused more on the problems of the War on Drugs, written by an offspring of a deceased policeman.   Good points, as well, but perusing the readers’ comments you can see how it quickly gets away from the fact that a 92-year-old woman is dead because the police decided to burst into her home.   Also, that blog entry was written before it was revealed the police were using a “No Knock” warrant, so the author was denied that information.  Regarding the pattern of that blogger’s readers’ comments, I’ll repeat: 

Please think twice: Sinking back into complacent, status quo thinking is a symptom of complicity.

(16:42 24.11.2006) P.P.S. An awesome memorial poem about Kathryn Johnston discovered via links whilst perusing some reactionary right-wing pro-police state site.
Here’s the WRAL story, that’s from the link, above, which I led off with:
92-Year-Old Killed As Police Burst Into Her Home

Niece Says Woman ‘Gunned Down Like Dog’

POSTED: 10:03 am EST November 22, 2006
UPDATED: 1:08 pm EST November 22, 2006

A 92-year-old is dead in what her family called a case of mistaken identity.

Was it the right address? Police said yes. But neighbors and relatives of the elderly woman shot to death by police said they believe there must have been a mistake.

Police said the woman, identified by relatives as Kathryn Johnston, was shot to death after she wounded three plainclothes officers trying to serve a drug warrant at her house.

The woman’s niece, Sarah Dozier, said that she bought her elderly aunt a gun to protect herself and that her aunt had a permit for the gun. Relatives said they believe Johnston opened fire because she was frightened by the officers, who were not in uniform, barging into her home.

Her relatives said Johnston had lived in the house for about 17 years.

“They kicked her door down talking about drugs, there’s no drugs in that house. And they realize now, they’ve got the wrong house,” Dozier said. “I’m mad as hell.” Officials said they had the correct house and that the warrant they had was legal.

Dozier said there were never any drugs at the house. She said the woman probably “panicked” when police forced their way into the home. She accused police of shooting her aunt down “like a dog.”  Dozier said she bought the house for her aunt and installed bars on the window to protect the elderly woman.

Atlanta Police Asst. Chief Alan Dreher said at a news conference Wednesday that an undercover officer made a drug purchase at Johnston’s address late Tuesday afternoon from a male suspect. Officers were able to obtain a search warrant after that.

Dreher said as the officers were executing the search warrant, the officers announced themselves and then forced open the door. Officials said the warrant was a “No Knock” warrant — meaning that the officers did not knock before forcing open the door, but they did announce themselves.

Dreher said the officers had a legal warrant before they forced open the door. He said they were justified in returning fire when they were fired upon.

Dreher said as soon as the officers forced open the door, Johnston shot at the officers and the officers returned fire to protect themselves. One officer was shot 3 times — once in the leg, on the side of the face and once in his bulletproof vest. One officer was hit in the leg and another hit in their arm.

The plainclothes Atlanta Police officers were transported to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment. All are expected to recover.

All officers are on paid administrative leave pending an investigation — as is common.

Officials said they have not made any arrests in the case and they have not located the male suspect. Dreher said suspected narcotics were recovered from the home but police are awaiting lab results to confirm that.

Dreher said a marked patrol vehicle was parked in front of the residence and the word “Police” was written across the front and back of the narcotics team’s vests. He also said only a matter of minutes passed between when officers arrived at the scene and when they forced open the door.

Dreher referred to the incident as a, “tragic and unfortunate incident.”

*originally posted at myspace.


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