War on Drugs

Kathryn Johnston


Just caught the press conference from Atlanta Police Department.

According to the Atlanta assistant chief of police:

1) The search warrant was in fact a no-knock warrant.

2) Police claim there was an undercover buy at the residence.  The seller was apparently a man—obviously not Ms. Johnston.

3) "Suspected narcotics" were seized from the home, and have been sent to a crime lab for analysis.  The assistant chief wouldn't say how much of the suspected narcotics they found.

4) He also wouldn't speculate if Johnston herself was involved in dealing drugs, or knew if drugs were being dealt from her home, saying only that both were "under investigation."

5) He maintains that despite the no-knock warrant police still announced themselves before entering, though he acknowledged moments later that the announcement came as police were battering down the door.

It isn't at all difficult to see how a 92-year old woman may not have heard or comprehended the announcement.

A reader reminds me that the incident is pretty similar to a police shooting in Alabama this past June, where an innocent, elderly man was shot when police forced entry into his home while looking for his nephew.  The man—who had done nothing wrong—also mistook the officers for criminal intruders, and met them with a gun.  Fortunately, he survived.

Even assuming the controlled buy, the incident still illustrates the folly of these raids.  Paramilitary tactics don't defuse violent situations, as police groups and their supporters sometimes claim.  They create them.  They make things more volatile for everyone—cops, suspects, and bystanders.  Does anyone honestly believe that Ms. Johnson would have opened fire had a couple of uniformed officers politely knocked on her door, showed her a warrant, and asked if they could come inside?

Violating the sanctity of the home with a violent, forced entry—all to enforce laws against consensual acts—simply isn't compatible with any honest notion of a free society.