The Latest from Atlanta

Two new details came out last night in the Johnston case, both reported in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

·  First, we learn that one of the officers connected to the investigation leading to the Johnston raid was accused of fabricating the details of an accident he had with a motorcyclist while on duty.  Officer Arthur Tesler was apparently speeding and driving on the wrong side of the road when the accident took place.  He claims he was in pursuit of a suspect, though neither his lights nor his flashers were on at the time of the accident.   He also failed to report the pursuit on his radio.  The city settled with the injured motorcyclist for $450,000.  The traffic violations against the motorists Tesler and another officers filed shortly after the incident were dropped, and Tesler was given a written reprimand by the police department.  The question here is why an officer who by all appearances lied to cover his butt after a near-fatal traffic incident was not only allowed to keep his job, but was subsequently allowed to conduct narcotics investigations.

·  In the same article, we also learn the identity of the informant, and are informed of his extensive rap sheet.  This is curious, given that just days ago the same man was described in the search warrant as "reliable," and we were told how important it is to keep an informant's identity secret, for his own safety.  Of course at the time, the informant was an asset to the police.  Now he's a liability.  Then, they were tight-lipped.  Now we get the guy's full biography.  Guess his safety isn't all that important anymore, either.

It's important to keep in mind, though, that as this guy's reputation gets trashed over the next few days, not only was he one week ago described in the warrant as "reliable," his word was so golden that Atlanta police were willing to conduct a high-risk, forced-entry raid on a home based solely on his assurance that a drug dealer was living inside, with no corroborating investigation.  This despite the presence of a wheelchair ramp outside the home.  If he's such a shady character, why did they put so much trust in him last week?

Sullying his name now may help police with the much more explosive perjury, obstruction, and corruption allegations, but it makes their actions in conducting the raid look a heck of a lot worse.

Related, slightly more verbose thoughts here.


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  • Old Dog||

    The question here is why an officer who by all appearances lied to cover his butt after a near-fatal traffic incident was not only allowed to keep his job, but was subsequently allowed to conduct narcotics investigations.

    Cops are held to a higher standard, regardless of whatever it is you really believe.

  • ||

    A week ago,I read the result of a survey that showed a plurality of Atlanta residents supported the police on this criminal, incompetent and evil raid. I wonder what they think now.

  • ||

    ...with no corroborating investigation.

    Journalists who write stories are expected to "corroborate" the information given by confidential sources. In most criminal investigations, police are expected to "corroborat" any information not explicitly witnessed by agents or backed up by actual evidence.

    "Corroboration" is a hallmark of investigatory proceedings for just this reason - to ensure the proper application of justice based on facts and properly obtained evidence.

    SO why wasn't this basic of criminal investigation adhered to? Sad.

  • Timon Braun||

    I feel like withholding my usual aversion to epochal lawsuits and pressing the idea that if cities can be colossally, monumentally punished for these kinds of atrocities, some good might come?

  • ||

    I think that it's possible that this guy had nothing to do with Karen Johnston's murder. I am speculating here, but I have a hypothesis that would explain the lack of intelligence work by the police - a drug dealing organization that pays protection money to the cops provided them with the address.

    When the government criminalizes some aspect of trade, two things arise

    1) Criminal organizations that service the proscribed market

    2) Government officials who are paid off to allow these groups to conduct their operations, and even to facilitate them.

    Initially, group 2 is paid off just to leave group 1) alone. Inevitably, though, the established members of group 1 begin to feel competition as new players, attracted by the high, illicit profits begin to enter the market.

    The established players invariably react violently. Usually, they attack the upstarts directly, but the more sophisticated ones use the govt officials to do it.

    SO let's say the Winter Hill Mob view Charleston as their turf and claim a monopoly on the sale of illicit narcotics within the city.

    They have several officers on the Charleston police force on their payroll. One of them, Detective Smith, happens to be in a position not only to provide them with warnings of a bust, but also to initiate investigations.

    Periodically another gang tries to move into Charleston, and the Winter Hill Mob, trying to keep a low profile, will identify who their new competitor is, the critical points in their distribution network, and will contact detective Smith with one or more addresses.

    He then fakes the information on the warrant, gets the judge to sign off on a dynamic entry, and then he and his men smash down the doors of their target and terrorize members of the upstart gang. Since the gang members have no warning of the impending assault, and they don't want to die, the reaking and entering should not be too hazardous. The police get nice press, more money allocated to deal with the the never-ending war, and the Winter Hill Mob can quietly continue its operations without people asking inconvenient questions about their ties to the state-house.

    Everybody wins, except for the upstart competitor who is thwarted from competing on quality or price and the poor consumer who has to settle for fewer choices.

    It's rank speculation, but fits a lot of the data points.

    As to Mr White, he was smart to flip; If my hypothesis is correct, he has information that could send a few cops to do hard time. I'm sure he wondered when one of these guys would have decided to get rid of an inconvenient witness.

  • ||

    from the AJC article:

    Christopher charged Gulley with driving under the influence, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, reckless driving, driving too fast for conditions, failure to maintain lane and driving with an expired tag

    That's called charge stacking, another pernicious strong-arm tactic used frequently by LE to put the citizen at a grave legal disadvantage. What happened to all these charges? I mean DUI is at least as dangerous as doing drugs, no?

    Radley,
    if you ever run out of SWAT cases, which I doubt, or they don't occupy enough time, check out charge stacking and what it does to people's willingness to plea bargain down. It's sort of like what the Dep City Attorney says int the article "Looking at all the facts and evidence," he said, "we thought it would be to the city's advantage and the employee's advantage if we minimized our exposure."
    With one small difference. Pleading involves admission of guilt. Naturally.

    Keep it up, Radley!

  • ||

    He then fakes the information on the warrant, gets the judge to sign off on a dynamic entry, and then he and his men smash down the doors of their target and terrorize members of the upstart gang. Since the gang members have no warning of the impending assault, and they don't want to die, the reaking and entering should not be too hazardous. The police get nice press, more money allocated to deal with the the never-ending war, and the Winter Hill Mob can quietly continue its operations without people asking inconvenient questions about their ties to the state-house"

    I am sure that happens all the time, but the woman whose house was raided wasn't a competitor. Why her house?

  • ||

    Cops are held to a higher standard, regardless of whatever it is you really believe.

    Old Dog...you made this identical statement in repsonse to my post last week. You were asked by another poster for some proof or elaboration for your assertion. I don't recall you providing any.

    In a majority of situations, you may be correct. I don't have the facts to dispute and neither, it appears, do you.

    But the various situations Radley and Reason have put forth simply don't folow that. In the numerous - indeed hundreds of - cases explored by Radley, police have suffered little scrutiny or ill effects while many innocent citizens have been jailed, killed or been unreasonably deprived of their civil liberties.

    Let's assume you're correct and a majority of times police are held to a higher standard. That still doesn't absolve the situations in which the citizens - rather than the police - unfairly suffer based on police incompetence.

  • ||

    tarran, Huh?

  • ||

    John, I'm sorry, I left that out, didn't I?

    I think they goofed. It probably was a transcription error, perhaps the wrong st name, or transposed digits on a number.

    Under my hypothesis (and I want to emphasize that I am speculating here), the police received an address that was incorrect.

    They can hardly tell the Chief that "we thought the address was good because Whitey Bulger gave it to us."

    They didn't investigate too much because their source *was* extremely reliable. They can't reveal their source because then they will really be in the soup.

    Again, I am speculating. My hypothesis is probably worth what you paid for it.

  • ||

    And another whopper:

    Tesler received a written reprimand after an office of professional standards investigation found that he had violated department policy regarding the operation of city vehicles, according to court papers.

    So his prime misdeed was violating a policy on vehicle use?
    For crying out loud! What about injuring a person, lying, filing false charges, violating his oath of office?
    This just shows how corrupt the whole system of policing really is. Bad training, little oversight, no accountability. Their actions cost the "officials" nothing, while breaking and bankrupting the very people they are supposed to protect. While serious cases like Mrs. Johnston's death, are often made public, every day citizens' rights are being violated across the country!
    It's like one one of my online discussion partners, former cop, believes: If it's legal it's ok.
    Apparently even if it's illegal.

  • ||

    Radley,

    Thank you for keeping on top of this story, by the way. It is hard to find coverage anywhere else.

    -damon

  • steveintheknow||

    You know I am cool with cops turning on their lights and running through intersections just so they can beat traffic to get too the donut shop for some free coffee. Thats just one of the perks as far as I am conscerned. But as for the accident with the motorcyclist, and then lying about it, the man should be thrown in jail!

    Could you imagine what would happen if a citizen was responsible for an accident like that? Or worse yet, if a citizen was driving safely with a BAC over the legal limit? Fucking, bullshit!

    Makes me want to pee on something.

  • ||

    Radley - I'm curious if you have detected any type of pattern in the use of home invasion policing based on the gun culture of the community being policed. In a city that has banned private ownership of firearms, once the dog is thoroughly shot the cops face little personal risk of injury. In my community I think a wrong-door raid has a fairly high possibility of resulting in a gun battle with an innocent citizen.

    Is there any evidence that this increased risk results in more careful and discriminate use of home invasion policing? If not, could we just pretend that we are the law enforcement/DA community and fabricate such evidence, because I really want this hypothesis to be true.

    Mike in Fort Worth

  • Timothy||

    Makes me want to pee on something.

    When I was in college I did my best to pee on all of the civic buildings in town. I managed to get most of them.

  • ||

    That is an interesting theory Terran. It certainly makes sense. My theory is that the police routinely engaged in kick in the door and drop some dope to get a good bust raids. They picked this house in a rough neighborhood at random, figuring that it would be full of poor black people who couldn't put up much of a fight and then pressured their informant to say he bought drugs there figuring they would get a warrent, kick in the door, drop the drugs and get themselves a nice easy bust for that week. It was a perfect plan had they not been unlucky enough to run into grandma with a Smith and Wesson.

  • ||

    Makes me want to pee on something.

    Only pee? Defecation comes immediately to my mind.

  • ||

    Only pee? Defecation comes immediately to my mind.

    Yeah, but that's just gross. A piss is sufficient and far less hassle than a poop in this case.

  • ||

    Timothy Braun

    I agree with you completely. However, last time I suggested the same thing, one of the others [J sub D, I think.] pointed out the "sovereign immunity" fly in that ointment.

  • ||

    Like Tarran, I can't wait for the next season of "The Shield"

  • ||

    Have any of you seen this?

    Kathryn Johnston Fired Only 1 Round

  • ||

    grizzly

    That is humorous, in a macabre way.

    Maybe she had one of those guns from old movie westerns? You know, fire one shot and six bad guys fall dead.

  • grylliade||

    Kathryn Johnston Fired Only 1 Round

    While this would make me sad, it's more likely true than that she got off more than one round. The other gunshot wounds were caused by the other police, I take it?

  • ||

    Kathryn Johnston Fired Only 1 Round

    Sounds like the NYPD should have hired her while they had the chance.

  • ||

    Am I the only frog here who thinks the water is getting warmer?

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    Didn't the jackass that did the initial coverup press conference say that she empited her gun?

  • ||

    "She emptied a six-shot revolver at them. Police identified the dead woman as Kathryn Johnston. The investigators were released from the hospital Wednesday morning."

    http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2006/11/21/1121copshot.html?COXnetJSessionIDbuild173=FjdTXTObIhMtwTBBi6tFcYnE11GRxmGVx8Uiy281Ll6jCQJfn3lj!-648653259&UrAuth=aN%60NUOaNVUbTTUWUXUWUZT[UUWU_UVUZU%60UaUcTYWVVZV&urcm=y

    From the ALJ on the 21st. Since three officers were hurt and the woman only fired one shot, it appears the dumb asses shot one another at least twice.

  • ||

    If I remember correctly, the 3 ocifers who were wounded were hit a total of 5 times. Assuming the news stories are accurate (I know big assumption) that means that means that at a minumum 80% of the police wounds were from friendly fire.

    I would like to see how many rounds the police fired vs hits to see if they can live up to the NYC police horrible hit ratio. BTW, does FF count as a hit or a miss?

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