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$4.9M Settlement in Atlanta Drug Raid Death

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By Jason Beahm on August 18, 2010 10:02 AM

A tragic, ugly incident in Atlanta is nearing a resolution. In 2006, a police drug squad executed a "no knock" warrant and kicked in the door of Kathryn Johnson, a 92 year-old woman. The police were there based on the tip of an informant who said he bought drugs there.

A no knock warrant is issued by a judge and allows police to enter without knocking. The rationale behind a no knock warrant is that evidence can be destroyed while the police wait for the door to be answered, or it could provide the resident to time to get armed.

Johnson fired a shot from her gun as they attempted to enter, likely assuming her home was being invaded. The police returned fire 39 times, hitting Johnson either five or six times. The police were not injured, but Johnston was killed in the gunfire during the mistaken drug raid. Making maters worse, when police failed to find drugs at the scene, they planted drugs there that had been confiscated into another drug raid. After an FBI investigation, five officers pleaded guilty for their involvement in the drug raid death, and six officers were reprimanded for failure to follow police policy, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Mayor Kasim Reed stated on Monday that the city will pay Kathryn Johnson's niece, Sarah C. Dozier, a total of $4.9 million. The settlement will come as $2.9 million this year with the remainder to come next year. The deal still needs final approval from the Atlanta City Council.

"Clearly a terrible wrong was committed in this tragic case. In the end, the city was forced to step up and right this wrong..." said Nicholas Moraitakis, an attorney for Dozier.

Moving on with the case is also important to the city of Atlanta. The shooting led to the indictment and conviction of several officers and well as a total reorganization of the Narcotics Unit. It was certainly a huge black mark on the Atlanta police.

"No amount of money can ever be a satisfactory replacement for a loved one," said Rev. Anthony Motley, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. "But, if it is a satisfactory representation for the family, if it represents a dignified atonement for the death, then that is all that matters," Motley said.

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