Militarization of Police

Updates on the Johnston Case


The Atlanta Journal Constitution published an interesting article over the weekend detailing yet another erroneous raid involving a no-knock warrant in the city.  This one happened a year ago at the house directly next door to Kathryn Johnston's home.  The article then jumped into a broader discussion of no-knock warrants in the city, and found some evidence that contrary to what police would have us believe, such warrants are common, poorly overseen by the courts, applied for and granted on scant evidence, and frequently turn up little or no evidence.

I posted two lengthy reactions at my personal website, which you can read here and here.

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  1. I thin the idea you posted for a searchable database of warrants is a really good one, so long as nobody who works for government has edit rights to the tables. The servers should be housed off-site by a reputable third party and nobody in government should be able to edit or delete records. Read, and insert only. That’s the only way to prevent changing things to cover up mistakes.

  2. Also after the Mena raid in Denver, the Rocky Mountain News accessed a year’s worth of no-knock warrants in the city the prior year and assessed the results of those raids. Ready for this?

    Of 146 no-knock raids conducted in the city that year, only 49 produced charges of any kind. And of those, just 2 resulted in prison time for the targets of the raids. The paper showed the results to one former prosecutor, who responded, “When you have that violent intrusion on people’s homes with so little results, you have to ask why.”

  3. This just gets better and better. They had a wrong-address no-knock raid a year ago at her next door neighbor?

    Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

    Out in the real world, a business that made a serious error, and then made the same error a year later resulting in someone’s death, would be stone cold DOA in the liability trial.

  4. Could it be that the cracks are finally beginning to show? Go AJC!

  5. Just read a report on how the alleged stron-arm thief (and his dog) of a couple Playstation 3’s were gunned down by a “special unit”. The alleged perp was not holding a gun. However, he may have had a joystick in his hand (I am not making this up). Cumbersome link here:

  6. Here’s the view from a local cop who writes for the AJC.

  7. The paper showed the results to one former prosecutor, who responded, “When you have that violent intrusion on people’s homes with so little results, you have to ask why.”

    You know what that really means: “you have to ask why they’re not finding anything.” Guess it’s time to start stopping by the evidence room before the raid, as well as after.

  8. Hey Ed:

    Your example, is another case of SWAT gone nuts, but it’s weird, I don’t have much sympathy for the violent robber getting shot. I have much more sympathy for a dope dealer. And the dogs.

    If SWAT ever busts in my door, I know w/ my PTSD I’m going to grab my .45 and not stop until I realize they’re cops. Unless they shoot my dog. Then I just won’t stop.

  9. I don’t have a lot of sympathy either when force is used against force, but the killing of an unarmed college student in his home by a friggin’ SWAT team is just sickening.

  10. General question:
    Isn’t there something in the bill of rights, or maybe some supreme court ruling about “the right to know your accuser”? Clearly, a confidential informant would be a violation of that principle.

  11. I’m a bit surprised that Mr. Balko hasn’t done a piece on the Wilmington Playstation incident yet:

    “Look out, I think he’s got a video game controller. Quick, shoot him before he summons a demon from the underworld to zap us!”

    G Zuss. Truly horrifying. How did America become, well, this America?

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