Alex White, Hero?

Today's the one-year anniversary of the Kathryn Johnston raid. One part of the case I think has been overlooked over the last twelve months is the role of Alex White. White was a paid police informant for Atlanta police when the Johnston raid went down. When the officers who killed Johnston realized their mistake, they knew they had to find someone to play the role of the fictional informant they claimed in the search warrants made the controlled drug buys from Johnston's home.

Knowing what we now know about the corruption and brutality of Atlanta PD's narcotics division, White's refusal to play along was pretty extraordinary. He claims he was put in an APD patrol car and pressured for hours to lie for the narcotics team. He finally escaped and called 911, then notified federal authorities, then told his story to the media. Had he played along, most of the country would probably think the 92-year-old Johnston was a drug dealer, or at least was allowing one to use her home, and that her death was unfortunate, but justified. We'd also never have known of the rampant corruption, perjury, and abuse of the informant system at APD. Much of it would likely still be going on.

White faced the possibility of retribution from the cops he worked with (who had, obviously, already shown themselves capable of criminal activity), as well as from the many drug dealers he'd helped put in jail. He had to put all of his faith in the federal officials investigating the case.

Last week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a feature on White, and on what's happened to him since he came forward. Not sure most people who read the piece will find White particularly sympathetic. He did of course traverse the morally dubious world of a professional snitch. Still, there's no question that his actions in the Johnston case were honorable, and proved critical to getting out the real story about what happened on Neal Street last November.

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  • robc||

    He can get in line behind Richard Jewell for the statues of heroes atlanta will never build.

  • lunchstealer||

    We'd also never have known of the rampant corruption, perjury, and abuse of the informant system at APD. Much of it would likely still be going on.

    How sure are we that it isn't? Have the reforms been strong enough and farreaching enough to really stop this sort of thing?

  • Tacos mmm...||

    How sure are we that it isn't? Have the reforms been strong enough and farreaching enough to really stop this sort of thing?


    From what I read, every person in the narcotics division has been transferred to other divisions, and an entirely new group of people is working there. That should at least break up the corrupt networking momentarily. However, the department has actually been enlarged, and does not seem to be any less militant, so it's only a matter of time before this happens again.

  • Texas Mountie||

    Cops and politicians who use their jobs to break the law should be killed.

  • robc||

    Texas Mountie,

    I wont go that far, but I have suggested that any government employee who uses his position to break the law should get treble punishment. Sentenced to 10 years? Guess what, we will see you in 30.

  • ||

    "I wont go that far, but I have suggested that any government employee who uses his position to break the law should get treble punishment. Sentenced to 10 years? Guess what, we will see you in 30."

    So the rest of us can pay for their room and board three times as long? No thanks.

  • Episiarch||

    Well, he's a snitch who undoubtedly sent others up the river for (probably) minor victimless drug crimes. Personally, I detest rats, but that disgust becomes far less when they are ratting on the government instead of people.

    The guy did the right thing, and deserves recognition for that. My guess is that he looked at the angles and figured going to the Feds was best for him amongst all his options (who knows what would have happened to him in a few months if he went along--they wouldn't want him able to talk). But my instinct is that he did the right thing for selfish reasons. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but that wouldn't make him any kind of hero.

  • Lionel Hutz||

    I don't use the word "hero" very often, but Alex White is the greatest hero in American history.

  • ||

    Lionel Hutz,
    I can't promise that Johnston's family is getting a large cash settlement, but let me just say that "Robinson's family is getting a large cash settlement!"

  • ||

    Johnston. not Robinson.

  • ed||

    "[Johnston's] family is getting a large cash settlement!"

    It would be funny if they blew it on crack.

  • ||

    So the rest of us can pay for their room and board three times as long?

    Uh, when they're not in prison, they work for the government.

    The wished-for decades' imprisonment is much more likely than their being fired.

  • ||

    I'm confused here. I thought his "tip" was what triggered the raid in the first place.

    If that is so, why should he be considered a hero because, once the excrement hit the air circulation device, he re-ratted on those who put it up to it in the first place?

  • ||

    It wasn't his tip; the cops lied about that. I hope I'm the first to remind you (of dozens).

  • ||

    george

    Once is sufficient.

    However, the fact that the cops even thought they could count on him to alibi them is disquieting.

    That being said, I guess it does take some guts to come forward and put the lie to the cops' story, given the circumstances. If I were him, I wouldn't even jaywalk for the rest of my life, just in case some of his old paymasters decided they needed an excuse to 'detain' him.

  • Egon||

    I'm reminded of a line from "Quiz Show":

    I'm happy that you've made the statement. But I cannot agree with most of my colleagues. See, I don't think an adult of your intelligence should be commended for simply, at long last, telling the truth.



    Feel free to gloss over the "intelligence" part.

  • CopsGoneBad||

    Submit your stories and read others' stories and news about Cops. Watch videos of Cops and learn your rights. www.CopsGoneBad.com

  • Edrea||

    Actually, there were 2 snitches in this case. The one the cops harassed earlier in the day, and the one who ratted on the cops. I'm glad the second snitch (White) covered his butt and told on the rogue cops. But that's what a snitches do - they take advantage of the best situation. It just shows how dangerous and dishonest the snitch system is. When researching for my novel "SnitchCraft" - about a dishonest informant - I realized the corrupt environment created by paying criminals for information (with money or reduced sentences). The death of Kathryn Johnston is the outcome of a failed war on drugs and a criminal justice system in chaos.

    Whether it's these Atlanta police focused on busting someone by any means necessary, the prosecutor in the Duke LaCrosse case determined to take someone down regardless of the facts, or the police across the country breaking laws to feed into the overcrowded prison system, these incidents should serve as a wake up call to Americans that too many people within the system are out of control.

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