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.