Three Atlanta police officers, whose no-knock drug raid resulted in the death of a 92-year-old woman last November, were indicted today on multiple charges, including felony murder.
The woman, Kathryn Johnson, died in a hail of bullets after three plainclothes police officers burst into her home without warning, acting on a tip from an informant who said that drugs were being dealt from that location.
According to the police, Ms. Johnson fired a gun at the three intruders, and they killed her with return fire.
The indicted officers are J.R. Smith and Arthur Tesley, who are still on the force, and Gregg Junnier, who has since retired. According to televised accounts, Mr. Junnier and Mr. Smith have been charged with felony murder, violation of oath by a public officer, burglary, aggravated assault and making false statements.
Mr. Tesley is charged with violation of oath, making false statements and false imprisonment.
The indictments were handed down by a grand jury in Fulton County, which includes Atlanta. The three men could face federal charges, in addition to the state charges.
The police at first defended their actions, but their account quickly broke down after a search of the house found only a small quantity of marijuana, not the crack cocaine that an informant had said was being sold.
Later, the Atlanta police chief, Richard Pennington, said the informant told investigators that he had been encouraged to falsely say that he had purchased $50 worth of crack cocaine at the house — information that was used to get a search warrant.
In fact, Chief Pennington said, “he told us he had no knowledge of going into that house and purchasing drugs.”
The Atlanta police said they are reviewing their policies regarding no-knock raids and the use of informants.