ATLANTA (AP)—Two Atlanta police officers involved in the fatal 2006 police shooting of a 92-year-old grandmother were fired and another resigned after an internal investigation found they lied and falsified documents in the aftermath of the botched police raid.
Interim Police Chief George Turner said last week he hoped the results of the investigation would close the books on the grisly shooting, which has scarred the Atlanta department’s reputation and led to a federal investigation. He said the probe has led to several changes in protocol and a more powerful citizen review panel.
|BOTCHED DRUG RAID—This undated family photo shows Kathryn Johnson, who was shot and killed by Atlanta police officers during a botched drug raid on her home in 2006.
“We expect our officers to uphold the law, and follow department policies and procedures,” he said. “We hope we have learned from this incident, can move forward with restoring trust and mending the relationship between the police department and the community.”
Turner fired Carey Bond and Holly Buchanan after an internal investigation found the two officers had falsified incident reports and search warrant affidavits. A third officer, Brad Burchfield, resigned while under investigation on charges that he gave an incorrect address for a search warrant.
Six other officers were reprimanded for not following department policy involving confidential informants and other minor infractions. An earlier FBI investigation led five officers to plead guilty for their roles in the shooting death.
The investigation stemmed from the disastrous November 2006 raid and the death of Kathryn Johnston, who was cut down in a hail of gunfire after plainclothes narcotics officers burst into her home using a special “no-knock” warrant to search for drugs.
Johnston fired a single bullet at the invaders, and they responded with 39 bullets through her wooden door in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown Atlanta.
Investigators originally said they had gone to the woman’s house after an informant bought drugs there from a dealer. In the weeks after the killing, an FBI probe revealed that officers tried to cover up the mistake after searching her home and finding no drugs.
Federal prosecutors said an officer handcuffed the dying woman and planted three baggies of marijuana in her basement. He then called an informant and told him to pretend he bought crack cocaine there, they said.
The botched raid led to an investigation of the Atlanta Police Department, which forced the department to tighten its warrant requirements, reorganize its narcotics unit and require new training for officers.
The city also created a citizen review board to investigate police misconduct months after Johnston’s death, although frustrated critics contend the panel doesn’t have enough authority or funding. And Mayor Kasim Reed has promised the board would play a more muscular role in his administration.
Turner, for one, said he hopes the end of the investigation will provide some closure for the department and the community.
“This was our number one priority, to get through this,” he said. “We had to establish the public trust, which had simply been eroded.”