Militarization of Police

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.


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  1. “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.”

    Neither is having the majority of the population government-loving whores willing to sell off their rights at the drop of a hat.

  2. 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.

    I hate to be a wet blanket, but does anyone in power really care?

  3. Total and complete lies, entirely fabricated in order to justify the cold blooded murder of an innocent woman.

  4. Total and complete lies, entirely fabricated in order to justify the cold blooded murder of an innocent woman.

    I won’t be that quick to judge that there was no drug activity at the house.

    OTOH, it wouldn’t be the first time police fabricated evidence and then lied about it to cover their asses, would it?

  5. I won’t be that quick to judge that there was no drug activity at the house.

    Virtually all narcotics are immediatly identifyable by well experienced police. Drug addicts will not buy a substance unless it is immediatly clear it is the drum they want. If there are “suspected narcotics”, it means that the police know for 100% sure they are not narcotics, but they will pretend that they believe they are narcotics hoping that by the time the tests show that they are not narcotics the media attention will have died down.

  6. Wow, a lot of people don’t trust the drug warriors. I wonder why.

  7. “Qu’elle bete vicieuse, quand j’elle attaque, elle se defend.”

  8. Technically, “Kathryn Johnson” according to this.

    Given the media attention, this may be the case that first begins to really generate negative public reaction.

  9. Since I refuse to hide the ball any longer on these travesties, let me just say that more cops getting shot in these raids will be a good thing. At some point the not-completely-braindead ones remaining will say “fuck this shit” and things will have to change–because society at large obviously doesn’t give a shit about the dead 92 year old ladies, or Corey Maye, or any other “criminal” dark skinned folks.

    And, yes, I am playing the race card, because if this shit was happening in the lily white suburbs nearly as frequently, it would be over already.

    “Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”

  10. Rex Rhino | November 22, 2006, 1:09pm | #

    “Virtually all narcotics are immediatly identifyable by well experienced police.”

    If she was 92 she probably had a bunch of ‘scripts. They ship em off to the lab knowing full well its probably blood pressure meds but like you said hoping the results will be delayed long enough.

    God forbid she had some opioid pain killers they’ll use that as evidence to justify the raid.

  11. God forbid she had some opioid pain killers they’ll use that as evidence to justify the raid.

    And prosecute her physician.

  12. The results of the poll at matthew hogan’s link.

    Were police justified?
    Yes 39%
    No 31%
    Hard to say 30%
    Total Votes: 22,741

    I find results like that in an internet poll very discouraging.

    I suspect that a poll of the public at large would show a majority believing the police were justified.

  13. “Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”

    More so daily, here.
    BTW, I’m not too bright, who’s the quote from?

  14. They should have just tasered the living shit out of her, like civilised police.

  15. “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”


  16. Wow, a lot of people don’t trust the drug warriors. I wonder why.

    Prolly because they keep kicking down doors and shooting people.

  17. Heh. Where’d all the cop apologists go?

  18. Heh. Where’d all the cop apologists go?

    They’ll be back w/ the same excuses/arguments. Bet on it.

  19. She damn sure got killed and that is a shame, but she could become a good symbol for ending the war on some drugs. Everyone loves their Grandma. Incidentally, Drug WarRant’s post said she winged 3 LEO’s, good for her, at least she got off some shots and made them count. I wonder if she was firing from the standing position or if she got into a sitting or kneeling position behind a piece of furniture.

    Maybe she was selling her scrips for grocery money and thought the LEO’s were a rival gang of old folks coming to rob her of her stash of oxycontin.

  20. I saw on the news video that the police were carrying off a door. I wonder why? Seems strange to cart off possible crime scene evidence. But then they did that in Waco as well.

  21. Damn. As uncomfy as it is, I guess I’ll start sleeping with my body armor on.

  22. I’m glad she got off a few rounds. But this won’t stop the War on Drugs. We will get more of the ol’ tried and true bullshit from the Cops. “We are overworked, underpaid, blah blah blah” All lies, lies ,lies.

    Let’s pray that something good comes out of this. Like the 3 of them going to jail for murder.And maybe get some kind of REAL independent investigation into the practices of the SWAT teams and the War on Drugs here in America.

    Like I said, we can only pray…

  23. Like I said, we can only pray…

    And cry.

  24. I’m stating to think that the next evolution in home defense will be guns that are not held by people.

    I’ve seen several rigs on the web where people rigged up camera’s a computer and a gun (usually paint-ball guns) and made something that could track and shoot people.

    A system like that would allow the homeowner to stay out of the line of fire.

    I wonder how long it will be before these things start appearing on the market, where a homeowner presses a button and hides. Legal versions (if any are permitted) would probably require same system so that police could disable them (which would render them pretty useful because robbers and tieves would soon learn ho to disable them too), but black-market jobs would not.

    I guess what would happen is that after running into a few homemade versions and suffering a bunch of deaths, the police might collectively rethink their policy of forced entry (or not, some bright wag will invariably propose pumping an incapacitating gas into a home as they burst in, and we say how well that worked in the Moscow theater siege).

  25. Cops are overworked and underpaid, imo. But it’s mainly because of the drug war that their job sucks so bad. Seriously, if they didn’t have to worry that everyone was going to start shooting at them because they’re afraid of going to jail for a very long time for having a substance that the law says is illegal (our war on some drugs, natch), then things would be much less confrontational.

    It’s like when a cop finds a pipe on someone, and tells them how drugs aren’t worth it and how “look, you’re going to jail now, and this will fuck up your life” and I’m like “No, asshole, the fact that you are taking someone to jail for this arbitrary shit and they ain’t hurtin’ anyone is what’s fucking up their life”.

    Anyway, this stuff makes me extremely angry.

  26. Crap, posted too quickly:
    “render them pretty useless

  27. I went from angry, after reading the story, to outright boiling after watching that press conference.

  28. This is just insanity. Maybe one of these days (hopefully soon) it will end.

  29. Damn dope-dealin grannies! I hope they pop caps in all ’em. Menace to society, bakin their “brownies” and knittin their “afghans”.

    Hell people, just look at them: faces of meth indeed, indeed.

    We had better wake up to this senescent menace or we will live to regret it.

  30. I’ve got the video open in another window. Listen to the way that SOB keeps stuttering and stumbling over his words. He knows damned well he’s full of shit.

    He said he can’t say what quantity or type of narcotics they suspect were in the house. Let me guess: the oregano might be marijuana and the talcum powder might be cocaine.

  31. I am still waiting for the “I Thought They Were Terrorists” defense for murder to be tried in court. Given the number of signs posted that citizens should be vigilant of strange behavior, and the perpetration of fear by the Government, I don’t see how it can fail.

    “A group of suspicious men dressed in black and carrying high powered firearms surrounded my house, and then burst in. I thought they were terrorists. So I shot two. I also caught one and tortured him. Now they tell me the guy whose testicles I scorched with jumper cables was a cop.”

  32. I also want a home security system where the door being kicked in triggers smoke machines, disco-lights and rave music.

  33. Since there is no way to spin this into a propaganda victory for “law enforcement”, I suspect the police will be trying to let the story die by making the minimum number of announcements that do not trigger media stories about “stonewalling”.

    I’m sure that Ms. Spears will do something particularly noteworthy, and the murder of Ms. Johnston will be relegated to obscurity.

    Shame, really.

  34. I was thoroughly disgusted when I saw the news report on this. The first question I had was why a 92-year old woman would think she was being robbed if the police officers DID do everything by the book. Someone screwed up BIG TIME and an elderly woman is now dead because of it. And YOU KNOW that APD will whitewash any fault of their officers. They will do everything to cover up their mistakes. And it won’t be long before the Atlanta media will pin the blame on the fact that this elderly woman was armed instead of cowering to the dysfunctional mentality that the police can somehow “protect” her. Yeah, great job so far on that front guys.

  35. I also want a home security system where the door being kicked in triggers smoke machines, disco-lights and rave music.

    I normally can’t stand the Bee Gees, but how funny would it be if the music was “Staying Alive.” Add a trap door in the ceiling that opens and dumps thousands and thousands of marbles on the floor and your friendly neighborhood intruders will be dancing the night away.

    Whether you’re a brother
    Or whether you’re a mother,
    You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
    Feel the city breakin’
    And ev’rybody shakin’
    And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive…

  36. Another thing: We can all bitch about corrupt police tactics, here, but it there any chance that the LP will make a 30 second commercial using, say, Radley’s “notion of a free society” line and that push-pin map from Cato? No. Because they are ineffective.
    If a fraction of the words spent on this board were directed at newspaper editorial columns (especially if we decided to target some more visible newspapers) we might at least spark some grass roots outrage. Hell, not even the far-left art papers are covering this. Our local Advocate has Jeff Lebowski on the cover ferchrissakes.

  37. JEFF, you aptly note that spending more than a few minutes complaining on an internet forum/blog about such malfeasance is a poor use of valuable resources – specifically, your (our) smart and astute observations about the manner at hand.

    That’s why we do the work we do at The Media Awareness Project. We teach people how to channel their astute comments into Letters to the Editor and OPEDs that get print and thus reach tens of thousands of readers (or more in a city like Atlanta) instead of just the few hundred or so in the friendly fraternity of sites like Hit&Run.

    Interested folks welcome to contact me. I guarantee I’ll have you in print within three weeks max. And once you learn how to do it for yourself, you can get print several times a week nationwide if that’s your bent.


  38. It’s time to call these groups by their proper name: Death Squads. America’s Paramilitary Death Squads.


    By cracky it works! Thanks tarran.

  39. tarran,

    On my Google News page today, we have Ms. Spears plans to release a sex tape of her wedding night before Federline does. If you didn’t see that story, maybe you can play a couple lotto tickets.

  40. Shawn, no I didn’t know that Ms. Spears had been in the news today. I’ve been so busy today that I only had 30 minutes to browse hit and run.

    It’s uncanny how Ms. Spears dominates the headlines whenever the secret government wants to cover up news that reveals its machinations

  41. On the other hand, I was just on the Yahoo news site, and the AP version of this story was listed as the secondmost read. A link like “92-year-old dies in shootout with the police” gets a LOT of hits.

    Maybe this atrocity will be The One, the magical one that so outrages the public that government is forced to change for the better.

  42. I am sick. Sick and disgusted. Disgusted at my government and disgusted by people.
    I don’t have anything to be thankful about. No fucking justice. No fucking justice.
    I’m going to go cry.

  43. Well… news coverage is rather… far reaching:

    GoogleNews has 25 pages (thats where I said “ok, we got coverage”) on – “Kathryn Johnston” Atlanta – for just the last 24 hours…

  44. Interesting California case (from Sac Bee):

    In an incredible move, the city defended its warrantless, no-knock storming of the home, appealing the jury’s award of $27,000 in compensatory damages and $111,000 in punitive damages. The appeals court had no patience with this, ordering the city and its attorneys to show cause why they should not be sanctioned double costs and attorneys fees for filing a frivolous appeal.

    “A prompt payment of the verdict, accompanied by a letter of apology from the city fathers and mothers, might have been a more appropriate response to the jury’s collective wisdom,” wrote Judge Alex Kozinski for the three-judge panel.

    Back to Sam:
    One of the HnRers ought to blog this. When Kozinski is on (not all the time) he is the best.

  45. “jury’s award of $27,000 in compensatory damages and $111,000 in punitive damages.”

    Pity it wasn’t $111,000,000 in punitive damages.

  46. The cops entered in full military mode, and a 92 year old woman was able to get off five shots. Fairly accurately. What would have happened if the house was full of motived and well-armed gangbangers?

    Unfortunately, I only see this a justification to use MORE force on this types of entries.

  47. Another thing: We can all bitch about corrupt police tactics, here, but it there any chance that the LP will make a 30 second commercial using, say, Radley’s “notion of a free society” line and that push-pin map from Cato? No. Because they are ineffective.

    Consider this a draft. If anybody has the resources to actually film this and get it on the air, permission is given to do so.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    TEXT AGAINST BLACK SCREEN: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    [Sound of somebody pounding at a door]

    MUFFLED VOICE: Police! Open Up!

    TEXT FADES AS WHITE SPOTS BLEED IN FROM SIDE OF SCREEN. Zoom out. It becomes apparent that we are looking at the inside of a residential door that is being forced open. The white spots are weapon-mounted lights. Several figures in black tactical uniforms, with the world POLICE clearly visible, enter the door.

    CUT TO ANOTHER ANGLE. INTERIOR OF LIVING ROOM. As the SWAT team comes into the living room, a dog — a yellow lab — enters the room. One of the officers shoots the dog.

    VOICE ON RADIO: “Shots fired! Shots fired!”

    CUT TO BEDROOM. IN THE BACKGROUND, KIDS CAN BE HEARD CRYING. The officers are pointing guns at a couple in bed, who are starting to get up.

    SWAT: “Police! Don’t move! Put your hands where we can see them!”

    Officers grab the husband and wife, pull them out of bed, and throw them onto the ground. Guns are pointed at their head. Other officers start pulling drawers out of the dresser and searching through the drawers and closet. Sound of things being smashed can be heard in the background.

    SWAT: “Where are the drugs!”

    WIFE: “What have you done with my children?!”

    SWAT: “Shut up! Where are the drugs!”

    HUSBAND: “Who are?”

    SWAT: “I said shut up! Where are the drugs!”


    VOICE ON RADIO: “We got the wrong house.”




    FADE IN TO MAN STANDING AT PODIUM. Some government official is in the middle of a press conference. Chief of Police is standing with him.

    OFFICIAL: These heroes were putting their lives on the line for us to serve a high-risk warrant. They made a a mistake. There’s no one to blame for a mistake.

    REPORTER (can be voice off screen): What about the family whose house was raided?

    OFFICIAL: Proper procedure was followed. Nobody was hurt. The way this family was treated has to be judged in the context of a war.

    [Insert some text here. Or maybe not. Possibility of multiple versions of this PSA

    “Coming Soon To A Neighborhood Near You”

    “Support the War on Drugs” (the sarcastic ending)

    “Based on true stories”

    “” (or whatever relevant URL)

    just cut to Balko’s raid map

    or just end it there, and let the viewer think about it].

  48. Looking at the case, it occurs to me how incompetent these police are. Keystone Kops level incompetence. They obviously thought it would take only a couple of seconds to bust down the door and then they could overwhelm whoever was inside. What do you know – its a lot harder breaking down a door in real life than on TV. This gives anybody who’s awake enough time to get a gun and take aim at the front door. And of course their actions are indistinguishable from those of genuine criminals – I’ll bet every penny-ante home invader now shouts “Police! Open up!”, and anyone with a stencil and paint can produce their own authentic-looking POLICE vest in a few minutes. These dimwits almost deserved to get shot. They were just lucky that this unfortunate lady only a had a weak handgun and wasn’t quite able to pull off a headshot.

  49. Nobody important: Alternate ending text.

    “If you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”

  50. Just to be clear, Radley:

    If the someone kicks in my door, they will be met with an armed response. As soon as I am satisfied that it is the police, the armed response will cease. I’m not advocating knowingly shooting the police, and I doubt anyone else on this thread really is either.

    However, somebody shouting “Police” and wearing a dark blue windbreaker may not satisfy me, without some reason to believe they are not an impostor.

    If they do have a warrant, I guess I’m screwed if I defend my home. On the other hand, if it is home invasion and I don’t defend my home, I’m screwed as well.

    I live in Dallas, where neither home invasions nor police impostors are unknown. Nor, for that matter are crooked and/or incompetent cops exactly a novelty around here.

    One thing the Dems could do that would make me seriously consider them as something other than tax and spend nannies would be to shutdown this no-knock nonsense.

  51. If they do have a warrant, I guess I’m screwed if I defend my home.

    Actually juries have been known to find otherwise. And the Cory Maye case notwithstanding incidents like this one may tend to make the jury pool in affected communities even more sympathetic.

    The fact of the matter is that the more the police escalate this the more incidents of this type will happen, whether it’s dealers defending their operations or, more likely, wrongly targeted citizens taking what would normally be considered legitimate defensive action against a home invasion.

    It’s a simple arms race in action. The authorities need to decide if the carnage is worth it. If the War on Drugs is so necessary that this “collateral damage” is acceptable then it is their decision to make. But the carnage will continue and many of the casualties will be cops.

    I, too, find the need to make the disclaimer that this increased violence is an outcome I find highly likely in the face of continued police actions of this nature. It is not one I want to see and it is certainly not one I will take any action to bring about.

  52. this is retarded

  53. im sorry im so gay i like it real hard in the butt hole

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