The killing of an elderly Atlanta woman after she shot and wounded three undercover policemen during a nighttime drug raid just might end up shedding some much needed light on the sordid business that is drug law enforcement in these United States. What we're seeing so far is not exactly a shining endorsement of the Atlanta Police Department's REDDOG (Run Every Drug Dealer Out of Georgia) drug squad or what looks to be the mindless search warrant machinery of the Fulton County courts. Just today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which deserves kudos for being all over this travesty, reported that the snitch on whose word the warrant was based now says he never bought drugs at Johnston's address, and the narcs involved in the raid asked him to lie about it after the fact. The Journal-Constitution also provides a copy of the search warrant, which Fulton County officials originally refused to release. The warrant is clearly marked as a "no-knock" warrant, putting the lie to initial police reports that police had knocked and announced, as required by regular search warrants. The affidavit for the warrant is a banal portrait of the day-to-day grinding of the drug war: The narc describes how he points an informant at the address, gives him $50, he comes back with two bags of crack he bought from a man known only as "Sam"â¦and that's that. Rubberstamp, please. Interestingly, there is no recording of the alleged transaction, and the affidavit is written to suggest that police surveilled the transaction, but does not actually say that they did. The seven narcs involved in this little shindig are now on suspension. Now, again according to the Journal-Constitution, Police Chief Richard Pennington says the department will review its "no-knock" policy, which would be good news. "No-knock" raids are a well-documented clear and present danger to police, innocent civilians, and yes, even people actually selling banned substances. You don't deserve summary execution for slinging some bags of crack. Meanwhile, in a Monday night update on the case, CNN reported that the killing of Kathryn Johnston will be the subject of a federal investigation. That, too, is good news. It means the heat is on, but as anyone who has watched these stories play out in the past knows, justice for the victims of these out-of-control, heavy-handed police raids is hard to come by. At the least, we hope the cops will be a little less hesitant to risk life and deathâtheir own and othersâover a couple of rocks of crack.
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