Ms. KATHRYN JOHNSTON, 92
Birthdate unknown, 1913? – November 21, 2006,
Remembered at St. Paul’s/Wellsboro PA January 10, 2015
Offertory (announced as “in her memory of Kathryn Johsnton and departed members of the parish”): “Lord, Send Your Angels” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIz-1fVsZhY)
I chose Ms. Johnston’s story the week I learned of the many, many deaths of Black women at the hands of badge-bearers.
Edited together from a number of news reports:
Ms. Johnston was a beloved member of her neighborhood, a grandmother and mother, an aunt, and at least partially disabled. On November 21, 2006, Atlanta police officers broke down the door of the 92-year old’s Neal Street home in Northwest Atlanta, and fired 39 shots at Johnston, killing her. Johnston, who believed her house was being broken into, had fired a single shot at the door. Atlanta police later admitted that after killing Johnston, they’d planted marijuana in her house and had submitted false paper work to get the “no knock” warrant that they had used to justify breaking down her front door.
On November 21, 2006, Atlanta police officers broke down the door of the partially-disabled grandmother and aunt– so beloved by her neighborhood that 5 years later she would be remembered with flowers and teddy bears outside her home in Northwest Atlanta– and fired 39 shots at Johnston, killing her.
This dear lady bled to death in her own home, in handcuffs applied as part of the officers’ attempt to cover up their guilt. (Police claimed she had shot them, but in the trial it was proved that they had been wounded by fragments of ricochet from their own storm of bullets.
Once they realized they had raided her home mistakenly, the officers handcuffed Ms. Johnston and left her to bleed and die on the floor of her own home while they planted marijuana in her basement..(Ms Johnston, believing that her house was being broken into, had fired a single shot at the door from her rusty gun.)
Four Atlanta police officers were sentenced to prison time for Johnston’s shooting, and the narcotics unit was replaced as were protocols. Atlanta police admitted that after killing Johnston, they’d planted marijuana in her house and had submitted false paper work to get the “no knock” warrant that they’d used to justify breaking down her front door. Four Atlanta police officers were sentenced to prison time for Johnston’s shooting; the narcotics unit was replaced.
Also learned, in the investigation of Ms. Johnston’s death:
It had long been routine for Atlanta’s narcotics officers to lie on drug warrants, and judges in the city rather systematically approved those warrants with no scrutiny at all (the judge in the Johnston case literally rubber-stamped the warrant), abrogating their oaths as guardians of the Fourth Amendment. [This in a city known as a progressive model of diversity.] Further, once the officers in the Johnston case knew they were in trouble, they pressured one of their actual drug informants to lie for them, and vouch for the fabricated account of the ‘controlled buy’ behind the warrant.
Subsequent investigations showed that the corruption at the Atlanta Police Department was so pervasive that Police Chief Richard Pennington eventually had to replace the entire narcotics division.
Two months before the Johnston, raid police officers nearly killed another elderly woman in the same neighborhood after forcing their way into her home in a mistaken raid. A year earlier, they had mistakenly raided the home next door to Johnston’s.
Shawn Mullins composed a song for Ms.Johnston and Atlanta, which appears on his album “Honeydew”. Click here for the original lyrics, my adaptation, and a link to Mullins performing his song.