The Mayor of Atlanta has offered a $4.9 million settlement to the family of Kathryn Johnston according to the Atlanta Journal. 92-year-old Johnston was killed in 2006 by Atlanta Police after an informant said he had purchased drugs from her home. When undercover police officers knocked down her door she reached fired a shot from a gun leading the police to shoot and kill her. It was later revealed that the informant had lied, no drugs were found at Johnston’s house and the undercover officers had planted drugs on Johnston to cover up their mistake.
Not only has this tragic case cost the city $4.9m in settlement money, but it led to several police officers being sentenced and has severely impacted public confidence in law enforcement.
The true costs of botched drugs busts involving confidential informants is finally being realised at Atlanta Police Department. As reported on ajc.com, 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston was shot dead in 2006 by members of APD’s drugs unit when they raided her home without warning. Upon finding no drugs in her home, the officers planted drugs on her.
APD’s Police Chief announced last week that he has fired two police officers for their role in the killing. Fourteen police officers were connected with misconduct surrounding the death – four of them are now in prison.
It has taken four years to fully investigate the situation – a lengthy and time consuming process that has undoubtedly harmed the credibility of the police department. All police departments should learn from the mistakes that were made – the need to improve the way that confidential informants are managed and the approval of search warrants is essential if the credibility of US law enforcement is to be maintained.