Atlanta finally settles with Estate of Kathryn Johnston

Almost four years after the murder of Kathryn Johnston, the City of Atlanta has finally settled with her estate, paying out $4.9 million:

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced Monday morning that the estate of Kathryn Johnston, led by her niece Sarah Dozier, would be getting a $4.9 million settlement. The full city council will debate and vote on it this afternoon.

Under the structure of the settlement the estate will get $2.9 million this year and another $2 million in fiscal year 2012.

Reed said the resolution of the case is an important healing step for the city and the police department, which was nearly ripped apart because of the shooting.

“As a result of the incident, several police officers were indicted in federal and state court on charges and were later convicted and sentenced for their actions,” said Reed, adding that the Narcotics Unit has been totally reorganized.

In case you don’t remember, Johnston’s home was raided by Atlanta police during a no-knock raid, through a warrant obtained with false information, at her home on Neal Street. When they came through the door, she fired one shot, not knowing it was the police, and was shot 39 times.

Three of the officers involved in the shooting were sentenced to jail for manslaughter, violation of oath and making false statements.

As of the end of the 2010 legislative session, the State of Georgia had still not acted on the problem of no-knock raids and the militarization of police.


  1. ZazaPachulia says:

    “As of the end of the 2010 legislative session, the State of Georgia had still not acted on the problem of no-knock raids and the militarization of police.”

    Not gonna happen. If you hadn’t noticed, the type of Republicans we keep sending to power here (and elsewhere: see Arizona) have that good old libertarian streak when it comes to arming citizens (guns on MARTA), but they operate more like early-middle 20th century right wingers from Europe when it comes to the police and the courts.

    I ask anyone here, what’s a bigger problem? What’s the bigger violation of liberty? Me not being able to carry my gun on MARTA or to a Georgia Tech science lab? Or the police breaking into my home without knocking? Which one of these scenarios was the constitution written to address?

    This is reason #48,123 to send the state GOP a clear message this cycle by voting for Porter (and if you can stomach the idea) Barnes.

    • Velasco says:

      What is the reason again to vote Porter/Barnes?

      Because you can’t take your assault rifle to your 8am molecular biology class? Or because APD’s rogue narcotics team shot Ms. Johnston four years ago?

      I’m just trying to follow your logic here.

      • ZazaPachulia says:

        The reason to vote against Deal and Cagle is to send the GaGOP a clear message that they’ve (for the most part) failed us over the past 8 years.

        • Velasco says:

          Nice switch from the obscure comments to the standard-yet-vague “they failed us” comment.

          Do you have any thoughts on how the GAGOP failed us for 8 consecutive years or are you just doing a standard “I hate the party” hit and run?

          Or better yet, do you care to contrast past GOP failures with current platitudes being pushed by the Porter/Barnes duo?

    • Chris says:

      As others have pointed out, somewhat valid premise, but it’s a leap to say that Barnes/Porter would be better.

      If I recall correctly, your AG nominee has been part of the problem, not part of the solution.

      • ZazaPachulia says:

        whoa there… Don’t be calling Ken Hodges my candidate. First off, I’m a Republican. Secondly, crossing party lines to vote against two crooks from Hall County is the equivalent of a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat crossing over to vote against a crook from Albany.

        All I’m saying here is that we need to elect good government conservatives, not reactionary right wingers. The only way to tell the party they’re giving us stinking heaps of garbage at the top of the ticket is to reject it. Under Sonny, Cagle and Richardson, our party has grotesquely underperformed. No knock could have been tackled easily. It wasn’t. A host of other major issues could have been ironed out with a little bit of work… again we’ve got very little to show for nearly a decade in control.

        And Chris, your “gun control has lead (sic) to a need for more officers, yet the supply of good and honest ones is fixed” is about as low-logic a straw-man argument as I’ve seen on the PP comments thread since about February (when some select few were still writing good things about Ray McBerry).

    • Chris says:

      and allow to go further, to say that the reason we have so many trigger-happy cops is because normal citizens can’t bear arms where necessary. Gun Control has lead to a need for more officers, yet the supply of good and honest ones is fixed. Thus, to fill the rolls needed, governments have to hire crooked cops, like the ones who shot Ms. Johnston.

      • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

        That’s a new one, gun control leads to hiring crooked cops. In spite of being a CCW permit holder, I find that statement mildly amusing.

        Where is this “Gun Control” you speak of? Did you not see SB 308.

  2. B Balz says:

    Small point of order, Ms. Johnson was shot 5-6 times and 39 rounds were fired. “NO-knocks” come from the premise that some gangs are so violent, a knock puts Officers at risk.

  3. “No-Knock” warrants are necessary when there is a chance that by announcing and waiting for the homeowner to answer the door, evidence can be destroyed. In cases of drug possession, that usually means flushed down the toilet. It is not to keep the police safe. Remember, they entered Mrs. Johnson’s home looking for drug evidence.

    I realizing I’m opening the door here to a whole discussion about decriminalizing all drugs, but, I’ll take that chance.

    You also have to keep in mind that the police don’t just come up with these warrants out of the blue. They have to explain to the judge why the no-knock warrant is needed and a judge has to approve the warrant.

    Furthermore, bad cops don’t need a no-knock warrant to trample a person’s rights.

    • bowersville says:

      “evidence can be destroyed”

      If police don’t have enough evidence to be knocking down someone’s door in the 1st place (armed and violent) then why risk the life of innocent civilians, police officers and the perpetrator in a shootout over obtaining evidence?

      • They must have enough evidence to show there is probable cause that additional evidence is suspected to be located in the location which they want to search. A no-knock warrant is a type of search warrant.

    • jm says:

      You also have to keep in mind that the police don’t just come up with these warrants out of the blue. They have to explain to the judge why the no-knock warrant is needed and a judge has to approve the warrant.

      Cops don’t come with labels, and judges may not know them by reputation. The judge in this case followed the law, as far as I know, and it led to an unnecessary death. Why? Because some cops didn’t do what they were supposed to do, and they did things that were just plain wrong. There was no way for the judge to know that when he signed the warrant, no way for the system to prevent what happened, no double-checks in place, as my understanding of events goes. The only way to prevent what happened to Ms. Johnson from happening again, from happening to you, or to me, is to pass a law that tells judges they can’t issue these kinds of warrants, and tell cops that even in the drug war there are rules. What would you rather have… a few drug dealers getting away with selling their poison, or more innocent dead grandmothers? It’s not quite that simple, but there’s got to be a better way.

      • How many no-knock warrants have been executed in this state, or the rest of the nation for that matter, that have resulted in similar situations?

        If you tied the hands of law enforcement every time a bad cop did something bad, then there would be no way to prosecute criminals. Mrs. Johnson’s death was a tragedy. Those who were responsible went to jail. The city is paying out millions in a settlement as a result. Jail time and money won’t bring back Mrs. Johnson, but tying the hands of good cops will result in far more criminals going free and more people put in danger.

        • “How many no-knock warrants have been executed in this state, or the rest of the nation for that matter, that have resulted in similar situations?”

          One is one too many.

          • bowersville says:

            Think “Waco.”

            There weren’t any bad cops involved in the initial raid, just poor priorities in decision making. Gathering of additional evidence became the number 1 priority. The initial raid was conducted on arrest and search warrants to gather evidence in the form of illegal weapons and to arrest David Koresh.

            Again, arrest warrants had been issued on David Koresh prior to the raid. He could have been arrested off the compound on numerous previous occasions. Cut off the head, you kill the snake. Would the outcome have been different? Maybe, maybe not but the officers killed in the initial raid would have survived to live another day.

            Now think on a smaller scale in Georgia.

          • How many traffic stops have resulted in an innocent person being shot or beat to death by the police? I think Ken Hodges knows. Still, does that mean that we no longer allow traffic stops?

          • Go ahead Pye. I will make a stand on this issue. Given my time working with or in law enforcement, I have no doubt that no-knock warrants are necessary. 7 botched raids in Georgia since 1991. What percent is that?

            If anyone wants to counter Mr. Pye’s contribution to Incumbent Democrat Terry Johnson, checks can be made to “Friends of Jason Shepherd” PO Box 527. Marietta, GA 30064.

            Or click on my name above to donate by credit card on my website.

            • Jason says:

              You may call me Jason.

              The fact of the matter is innocent people are getting caught in the line of fire. If that isn’t a cause for concern, I don’t know what is.

    • Lady Thinker says:


      With criminals impersonating police officers during some of the home invasion robberies we hear about on the news, I can understand people shooting when someone breaks in the door in a violent and tumultuous manner. How can the citizens possibly tell the difference between the police and the criminals when this happens? Especially if the police have the wrong address or other warrant errors.

      This is an unfortunate circumstance because you are correct Jason, no-knock warrants are a very necessary part of police work for the protection of all involved and they are not easy to get from a judge.

      The officers should have told the truth and studied the situation to make sure safeguards are in place for future raids.

      • There has also been a serious problem with criminals dressing as cops and pulling people over, but we don’t take the police patrols off of the streets because of that.

        The truth is the system will always be flawed because the system involved people who are flawed. Mistakes happen. A 7 year old girl in Detroit was accidentally shot and killed while the police were executing a regular search warrant. There is danger whenever an officer enters into a home or space belonging to another.

        I have been there when search warrants were executed and have gone in with officers not knowing what to expect. Is the suspect there? Will they start shooting? Will there be an incident? Why am I the only one not wearing a bullet proof vest?

        I have also had to give up cases in court because the police messed up and, by not protecting the suspect’s rights, I had no usable evidence, even though the evidence I had showed beyond all doubt the accused was guilty. That is why police training is so important and having officers with the highest level of integrity and professionalism is essential.

        Yes there are bad cops, but they are the exception and most of them end up behind bars themselves.

        I have yet to find a single person I know who lost liberty or was prosecuted because of the Patriot Act, but a lot of people said we would end up like Nazi Germany because of it. It hasn’t happened.

        In reality, there has probably been half a million no-knock warrants issued between 1981 and now. There have been 91 deaths, 43 of innocent people (the number I used below), 25 officers, and 23 non-violent offenders. That number should be zero, but police work is dangerous and each day thousands of officers put their lives at risk to protect the rest of us.

        In 1985 and 1986 there were no deaths anywhere in the country in any no-knock situation. We need to make sure our officers have the training to get the number back to as close to that as we can.

        In Georgia, there have been four deaths; 1991, 2000 and 2 in 2006. I do not know how many no-knock warrants were issued in Georgia in 2005, but if 50,000 + were issued nationally, then at least a few hundred would have had to happen in Georgia. There have been none since 2006. That is little comfort to the family of Mrs. Johnson, but hopefully it shows our officers are being more careful, taking extra precautions and receiving better training.

        What those officers did was inexcusable. They showed in every sense imaginable why the protections of the Constitution are still very much needed.

        Government’s core function is to protect my life, liberty and property from those who would deprive me of such. Even the Declaration of Independence states that in order to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

        You see, I know what limited government means. It is not anarchy, but the protection of freedom. There is no freedom where the innocent have fear from either the government or their fellow citizens and the criminals do not. In many communities, it is all to often the case where there is no freedom because of crippling fear of both. The government needs to follow the rules to properly stand as that thin blue line to protect the life, liberty and property of people. In that, we will have freedom and liberty preserved.

        • B Balz says:

          Fair enough, and I agree with some of what you are saying. Fact is, we are at war with our own citizens. The Police operate with rules of engagement (Bill of Rights) that often put them at risk. I see ‘no-knocks’ as a way to help level the battlefield. Bad precedent.

          Lighter fluid and a match to burn evidence? How much cocaine or pot can you burn in less than two minutes? Maybe criminals have faster means to destroy evidence, I don’t know of them.

          The larger issue is whether or not a ‘no-knock’ which carries so many risks even if executed properly, is worth making the case? Today, just because we have not lost our rights, wholesale, doesn’t mean that at a future date, we will not.

          In NC we see systemic misuse of the NC State Crime Lab. Potentially, people may have been executed wrongly. Systems that allow for unjust power usually become unjust.

          Mr. Shepard, I respect you have just taken the bar, and am confident that October will come with news you passed. I am sure you’ll agree that your true education continues in the field.

          Especially in Cobb, campaigning on a strong law and order campaign is a winning strategy. G’d forbid that Cobb ever has a situation like that of Ms. Kathryn Johnston.

          • Lady Thinker says:


            You wrote a great post. In some jurisdictions and states, agencies require an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice before applying to become a police officer. In Georgia, a person can become a police officer with a GED and about ten weeks in the academy. Then we give them a gun, badge, patrol car, and say go police. As you know, it costs approximately $100,000 to train each police officer. Some agencies require college for promotions, others don’t.

            Several studies have researched whether educated officers have less civil suits filed against them for Civil Rights Violations. Some studies say yes, others say no. We require beauticians, barbers, private security, teachers, dental hygentists, certified nursing assistants, nurses, etc. to be licensed by the state, but we give GED police cadets a gun, badge, and authority, then cross our fingers that there are no problems. I would like to see Georgia require at least an associate’s degree for everyone applying to become a police officer and a bachelor’s and master’s degrees for progressing up through the ranks.

            • analogkid says:

              LT: You think cops should have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, but don’t care if candidates for governor have a degree in anything?

              Help me out.

    • ““No-Knock” warrants are necessary when there is a chance that by announcing and waiting for the homeowner to answer the door, evidence can be destroyed. In cases of drug possession, that usually means flushed down the toilet. It is not to keep the police safe. Remember, they entered Mrs. Johnson’s home looking for drug evidence.”

      Let’s think rationally about the quantity of drugs that can be flushed down a toilet in the span of a couple of minutes waiting for someone to answer the door. You’re obviously not talking about any big time drug dealers here because otherwise you’d realize that flushing 100 pounds of marijuana or however many kilos of cocaine or whatever down the toilet in a short time is probably no easy feat. (Unless they’ve had really really large toilets installed.) So essentially what you’re talking about is risking innocent lives for a pound of pot or so? Okay, yeah… that’s totally worth it. (/sarcasm)

  4. bowersville says:

    Ya’ll are isolating the one event, the bad event. For the purpose of debate, try to disregard it for a moment.

    What you are saying is obtaining evidence by bashing in someone’s door and rushing in unannounced is more important than safeguards in the law to protect the lives of:

    1st. innocent civilians
    2nd. the police officer &
    3rd. the perpetrator.

    It doesn’t take a bad cop to kill or be killed breaking into a home with a no-knock for the sole purpose of obtaining evidence. With your reasoning ya’ll are saying the order of importance is:

    1st. preservation of evidence
    2nd. lives of the innocent
    3rd. lives of the police officer
    4th. lives of the perpetrator.

    Do it your way enough and somebody is going to be hurt, guaranteed.

    • Doug Deal says:

      The police officer signs up for the dangers and risks of police duty, and should be below the life of the perpetrator. In our country we are suposed to not subscribe to punishment by arrest.

      • bowersville says:

        No, you are wrong. The police are required by law not to violate the rights of the perpetrator. There is nothing in law requiring the police to give up his/her life at the will of the perpetrator.

        Once the perpetrator is in police custody, it’s the duty of police to protect the perpetrator.

        If you place the life of the police officer below the life of the perpetrator you take away the rights of the police officer to defend himself/herself.

        Who said anything about punishment by arrest?

  5. Atticus Grinch says:

    “As of the end of the 2010 legislative session, the State of Georgia had still not acted on the problem of no-knock raids and the militarization of police. ”

    Agree with the first comment in the thread — its never going to happen. While Georgia-style GOP members preach they are fervently against big government and love personal freedom and liberty, they have a irrational, blind allegiance to law enforcement. Need more laws criminalizing behavior? Yes. Need to increase fines and penalties on the crimes we already have? Yes. Need to give police (and the court system) more authority to invade your privacy? Yes (after all, if you’ve got nothing to hide, why should you care?) Need to create an environment where law enforcement can’t be challenged or questioned? Yes (let’s break out the tasers and pepper spray!!!) Tired of panty-waist liberal judges in Georgia (both of them) slapping young punks on the wrist? Yes — let’s pass mindless mandatory sentences that indiscriminately apply across the board without any regard to the facts of the case. If you want to talk about common sense, you must be soft on crime.

    Nothing converts and transforms a law-and-order GOP into a freedom loving libertarian like their own personal encounter with the arbitrary whims of an officer or when their own kid runs afoul of the law.

    One final thought: most officers are fine, decent well-meaning people who truly care about public service. However, there is nothing wrong with holding a healthy suspicion of law enforcement.

    • B Balz says:

      Amen. The concept of even justifying a ‘no-knock’ warrant implies how a disturbingly large portion of our society is terribly off-course.

      There are two America’s folks. Bank it, and worry not about the external enemies of the State, we have greater internal enemies.

  6. polisavvy says:

    This was one of the most disturbing cases of murder. The details that emerged were extremely troubling. Something has to give. No one should ever die like that again. I sincerely hope our legislators will take note to correct this issue pretty soon into session. The poor sweet old lady and her family.

  7. dusty ride says:

    Do the judges actually read or check the legality and validity of sworn statements before they sign the no knock warrant or do they just rubber stamp them on through? I gather they don’t but it should be required reading for them. Don’t you think? Just asking….

    • Lady Thinker says:

      Judges not only read the warrants but ask questions and the whole event is recorded for future use if needed. No knock warrants are not easy to get because it is a deep intrustion on the Fourth Amendment which says “‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

      This site gives numerous court cases that have been decides on challanges to the Fourth Amendment.

  8. Stump Barnes says:

    I’m sure Jason Shepard thinks of himself as a “small-government” conservative, but his naive attitude toward law enforcement thuggery only furthers the impression that most Republican politicians don’t think deeply about their positions.

    No-knock raids are a deadly and frequent problem. Law enforcement has been coddled too much. The 4th and 5th amendments to the Constitution exist for a reason.

    Yes, some No-knock raids are necessary, but they should be few and far between. If such a raid is necessary, the judge signing the warrant should be present at the raid, assume full liability for it, and the raid should only be done if there is an imminent threat to the life of the officers or suspects that cannot be otherwise mitigated without a No-knock raid.

    Risking peoples lives, potentially innocent ones, just to theoretically preserve a few pounds of dope is ridiculous.

    “Small-government” Republicans need to recognise that their blind devotion to “law enforcement,” as with “Wall Street,” is unwarranted, unwise, and deadly to their freedoms and property.

    • Stump Barnes, there were over 50,000 no-knock warrants issued in the United States on both the local and federal level in 2005. Since 1981, 40 no-knock raids have gone bad according to the Cato Institute. In 1981 there were 3,000 such warrants issued.

      Let’s assume that there were only 3,000 such raids a year from 1981 – 2004 and it jumped to 50,000 in 2005 then went back down to 3,000 a year between 2006 and 2009. Even with that ridiculously small estimate of 134,000 warrants between 1981 and 2005, 40 times something went wrong and someone was hurt or killed. That means odds of a no-knock warrant going bad, once again using a ridiculously low estimate, is 3,350 to 1

      The odds are 20 to 1 of being a victim of a serious crime in your lifetime.
      175 to 1 that you will be audited by the IRS
      220 to 1 that the book you wrote will be a NYT best seller (sorry Erick)
      Odds of injury from mowing the lawn: 3,623 to 1
      Odds of catching a ball at a major league ballgame: 563 to 1
      Chance of dying from any kind of injury during the next year: 1,820 to 1
      Odds of having your identity stolen: 200 to 1
      Odds of dating a millionaire: 215 to 1

      I would say the lawn mower danger is much greater a threat to the life and safety of the average American than no-knock warrants.

      There was a Senate bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly that didn’t make it to a vote in the House that would require that to obtain a no-knock warrant, the police had to show, in addition to probable cause for the warrant, that there was probable cause that evidence could be destroyed or police injured if they would be required to knock.

      I don’t know where the Wall Street issue came from. It would seem that both parties have an overly close relationship with Wall Street at the expense of the small businesses that employee most Americans.

      • Doug Deal says:

        Your comparison is junk. For one thing, if I remember correctly, 21,000 people a year die from leukemia a year in the United States. That’s 1/15,000.

        Does this mean we end the billions spent on leukemia research since you are more likely to date a millionaire.

        I would rather 100 felons go free than 1 innocent die with due to over agressive police work.

        • B Balz says:

          Thanks, Doug, I agree.

          Jason, only 19 men destroyed the Twin Towers in NYC. Doesn’t your logic suggest the wars in A-Stan and Iraq are not justified because we are wasting the lives of Amercians/other(s) and trillions on a relatively tiny enemy?

      • Stump Barnes says:

        Jason, there are so many problems with your above argument. First off, most of those activities you list are ones in which a person voluntarily excercises their freedom to participate in. Second, there are a lot of low probability events that we as a society choose to safeguard against. What’s the probability that an American would be killed by terrorism on American soil…even in 2001?

        Also, by focusing solely on unjustified deaths from no-knock warrants, you’re creating a false dichotomy. Just because someone doesn’t die in a no-knock raid, that doesn’t eliminate the possibility the raid was wrong, illegal, or unnecessarily injured or terrorized innocent parties.

        Due to the low threshold for no-knock warrants and the low likelihood of negative repercussions for law enforcement for no-knock raids that do not result in death, no-knock raids can also be used by law enforcement for coersive or oppressive reasons. This flies directly in the face of the intent of the Bill of Rights.

        Make no mistake, no-knock raids are a severe act of violence that would result in multiple felonies and many years in prison if private citizens did the same. This is not some cop writing you a speeding ticket.

        Finally, no-knock raids further fuel the “Us-vs.-them,” adrenaline-fueled mentality of law enforcement when it comes to serving warrants. The law enforcement officers I respect the most are the ones who are restrained, deliberate, and thoughtful in the performance of their job…. not bullies with a cowboy-mentality.

        • Stump,

          Okay, so what part of what I have said about no-knock warrants needing to be rare and justified did you not get?

          What part of my statements about officers needing adequate training to prevent tragedies like what happened to Mrs. Johnson do you not get?

          Also, how does a no-knock warrant fly in the face of the Bill of Rights if they are, as I have said, justified and rare?

          How, in your mind, does a warrant need to be executed to comply with the Bill of Rights?

          And finally, have you ever served a warrant or been with a group of officers as they served a warrant?

  9. Doug Grammer says:

    Either you are for the enforcement of our laws or you are not. Police should have appropriate training, and it’s unfortunate that this happened. The question has been asked is why are Republicans so in favor of law enforcement? I counter with why isn’t everyone? I would guess for LP members is that they don’t want anyone taking their pot., or that they don’t want any government services and want us to police ourselves, much like building our own roads.

    Shep’s pulled our some good statistics such as you are more likely to be involved in a lawn mower accident than to be involved in a no knock warrant situation. No knocks don’t violate the constitution because of the way that they are processed. They are not the most common type of warrant, but they have their place. If you are going to complain about constitutionality, I think roadside checks for license and registration are much more egregious.

    Pye, I think it’s silly for you to write a check to Shep’s opponent just because he’s right on an issue and you are wrong on it. But hey, you have the right to be wrong. You also have the right to be silent. You have the right to an attorney, should you not be able to afford an attorney……

      • I see your Cato and raise you a Heritage Foundation. You want to get down to it, the root cause is this:

        The problem is not the no-knock warrants. The problem is that if a little girl brings a Tweety Bird key chain to school, she can be arrested for carrying a weapon because the code outlaws chains and there is a tiny chain between the Tweety and the key loop.

        From the article linked above, “As the American Bar Association reported a few years ago, there are now so many laws (at least 4,000 by one expert estimation) “that there is no conveniently accessible, complete list of federal crimes.” Throw in federal regulations (there are 300,000 of them, according to a Columbia law professor), state laws and local ordinances, and you, too, could be a felon and not even know it.”

        Let’s be sensible about this Pye, you can cut the leaves off the weed, but if the roots are still there, it will grow back. Likewise, you can get rid of no-knock warrants, but if you can still be charged with carrying a concealed cartoon character, then we have done nothing to solve the ultimate problem.

        • Stump Barnes says:

          Jason, if you want to seriously address ridiculous zero-tolerance policies, and the over-criminalization and over-regulation of American life, then that’s something you and I can agree on.

          When I run into people like Doug Grammer, who think in such simplistic, naive terms about the law, I ask them to go to a library and look at the volumes and volumes of state and Federal laws. I then ask them if they can guarantee me they have strictly followed all of those laws. There’s no way they can. Furthermore, so many vague laws are passed that basically give the prosecutors and regulators a finally say on what they mean, that even if you consciously try to follow the law you may still be violating it.

          The United States has more laws and more people in prison than any other country on Earth. Are we really that awful of a people?

    • Doug Deal says:

      Either you are for the enforcement of our laws or you are not.

      This is why the GA GOP is such a joke. They should have canned you a long time ago.

      People who view the world in such ridiculous absolutes have no business in positions of leadership at any level or capacity.

      • B Balz says:

        You are on a roll, today, Mr. Deal!

        Mr. Grammer, I admire the clarity and tenacity of your writing. Fact is, you do think in absolute terms, and life occurs in the grey.

        That comments is meant sincerely as a friendly observation, and not a cut/smack-down, or insult. Mr. Pye has a valid point on this issue. Balance between law and order is critical so we do not ever wake up to the sound of thugs in jack boots, saying glad it was the neighbors and not me.

        I do agree, law and order is not a GOP issue, it is an American value.

        • Doug Grammer says:

          I agree it is an American Value, but that does not diminish the questions asked by ZazaPachulia, Atticus Grinch, and Stump Barnes claiming that law enforcement is backed more by the GOP than other political parties. I was simply trying to put out an opinion of why they might be right.

          David Staples freely admitted he is against no knocks because the amount of drugs destroyed is within what he feels is an acceptable level.

          Pye and D. Deal, you are both masterful debaters. When you learn how to reply to the issue at hand as opposed to attacking the messenger, perhaps I’ll take you more seriously. Apparently, you both want to be judges, juries, and executioners of the law. You get to decide what laws are enforced and how. If I am misinterpreting your statements, please make some that rise above insult, and then I can properly evaluate them. I am incredibly bored when someone disagrees with me and then says that I should be removed from office. If I don’t agree with you, do I say you should be fired? No. I let the people who hire you make that determination. You should try giving the people who attend the GOP conventions the same courtesy.

          I did not say no knocks should be the norm. They should be used when there is probable cause that it is warranted. Waco was a good situation were a no knock should have been used. It was incredibly badly executed. Don’t bring in three TV crews and a helicopter and expect the branch dividians not to think something was up. A situation where a husband is keeping his wife from leaving the house and he has a weapon in his hand, might be a good time for a no knock. That does not mean shoot first and ask questions later. No knocks should be a rarity, but they have their place.

          • “David Staples freely admitted he is against no knocks because the amount of drugs destroyed is within what he feels is an acceptable level.”

            Thanks for putting words in my mouth Douggie. Perhaps you should revisit what I said. I said I’m against no knocks because of the danger it poses to innocent citizens. I simply pointed out the flaw in Jason Shepherd’s argument that it’s necessary that they be no-knock because the evidence could be flushed.

            My insinuation is why would a no knock warrant be necessary to catch someone with a pound of pot. Could we not just as easily use surveilance and catch the person before they go inside the house or catch them coming out when we’re able to verify that they’re not a 77 year old grandmother? Wouldn’t that be the safer route to go for everyone involved?

            Additionally… a pound of pot… have we run out of the real criminals and now have to resort to catching those who smoke a plant recreationally or medicinally? Glad to hear violent crime has become non-existent!

            • Doug Grammer says:


              You are correct that I did spin your words around a bit. My apologies for that. I do think it’s fair that I can infer that because you think there is no violence associated with drugs, no knocks are not warranted in those situations. Please correct me if I am wrong.

              I am harsh on drug dealers because of more than one reason. First, they impact peoples lives with addiction. Second, anything so good that makes me want to steal from my family is something I will have to pass on. Third, addicts have been known to commit crime to get their fix, sometimes violently against strangers. Just because the immediate sale of a drug isn’t accompanied by violence doesn’t mean that violence is not occurring because of the drugs.

              Fourth, as innocent as you think pot is, it is a gateway drug. People on heroin, meth, and all other types of goodies hit pot first. That doesn’t mean that every pot smoker goes on to something harder, but just about everyone who is on something harder has tried pot first.

              Until they raid the home, they don’t know exactly how much pot or other drugs may be there. You don’t always know if it’s for personal use or redistribution. There maybe weapons, large sums of cash from the sale of drugs, or other criminal enterprises going on. I think no knocks are appropriate in these situations, but I recognize that as my opinion and you are entitled to yours.

              • “Fourth, as innocent as you think pot is, it is a gateway drug. People on heroin, meth, and all other types of goodies hit pot first. That doesn’t mean that every pot smoker goes on to something harder, but just about everyone who is on something harder has tried pot first.”

                Agreed… most people that are addicts have tried a variety of drugs – including marijuana, xanex, hydrocodone, oxycodone, etc. You’ll notice that 3 of those 4 are legal.

                “Just because the immediate sale of a drug isn’t accompanied by violence doesn’t mean that violence is not occurring because of the drugs.”

                Right. But I would submit that overall violence due to drugs would actually decrease if they were legalized. Ex-Mexican President Vicente Fox is now calling for the legalization of drugs. You might find this an interesting read…


            • Dave, the drugs being flushed was just one example to use as an illustration.

              Maybe it’s paper evidence of fraud that can burned or shredded. Maybe it’s computer files that contain evidence of child exploitation that must be secured. Start thinking of all of the different types of potential evidence in all of the potential types of crimes that can be destroyed in a matter of less than 60 seconds. No-knocks are not just used on drug busts.

              • B Balz says:


                Good points on the other types of crimes that ‘no-knocks’ might be used on. As disgusting, morally incomprehensible as child porn is to me, and to a lesser degree, financial fraud crime may be, you have only strengthened the case against the use of ‘no-knocks’.

                That life or limb may be imperiled over erasure of files on a computer is not right. 4N6 computer recovery can get back a lot of data, even if purged.

                You cannot delete data fast enough, unless you have sophisticated shredder software. To me, those cases are even less of a reason to use a ‘no-knock.’

                Makes good pol talking points, but lousy public policy.

              • Lady Thinker says:


                I have drafted no-knock warrants, been there when they were executed, and been there when they were returned. The judge recorded the entire sworn testimony of everyone to be involved in the execution as well as complete description of the location, a detailed description of the people and things to be seized, a photo of the house and mailbox showing the street number with the house or business in the same photo as well as a detailed explanation as to why a no-knock was needed in addition to the criminal histories of all defendants involved, and a map of all homes/businesses in the area as well as an order as to when the warrant could be served. The ones I have been on were for murders including child-rape murders where there was a severe threat to the lives not only of the officers but to the defendants and neighbors around the target location. The area was evacuated and the SWAT teams made the entry before other detectives and officers executed the warrants. I don’t know what else could be done to ensure the safety of all involved because the cops have to play by the rules, the bad guys don’t.

          • Jason says:

            Doug, you are not worth debating because you don’t have the intellectual capacity to discuss an issue outside of the GOP talking point.

            You simply are not worth my time.

          • B Balz says:

            Did not Dem Rep. Teilhet try his Orwellian best to make collection of DNA upon felony arrest the law? Law and order is a safe and reliable gambit in a pol campaign, for either Party.

  10. debbie0040 says:

    If no knock warrants are to be allowed, then there should be stiff punishment for law enforcement that enter the wrong house by mistake because they did not investigate throughly. There have been incidents in Gwinnett county and other places where law enforcement entered the wrong home and ended up killing the beloved family pet. You that say that those incidents are minimum, would you say that if you and your family were roused out of bed at 2am and one of your children was accidently killed?

    I believe no knock warrants should only be allowed in cases of violent offenders.

    I disagree wi th Shep on this one issue, but I still hope like heck he wins and everyone should support him.

    • That’s an entirely different problem Debbie. It is never legal for officers to enter the wrong home, regardless of the warrant issued.

      I agree with you as well that no-knocks should be as rare as possible. They are being used too often in place of knock warrants, which only require the police to wait a couple of seconds before they can break down the door anyway.

      Right now in Georgia you do not need to show separate probable cause to a judge to get a no-knock warrant. That needs to be changed.

      • B Balz says:

        Well, goes back to what Pye, Jason, Mr. Pye or Mr. Jason Pye brought up: Way too much para-military police action is going on.

        For those of you who have heard of ‘echelon’ you can skip this.

        The intel community devised a top-secret keyword search system [Echelon] that scours vast amounts of electronic data for specific phrases or words. This technology has been transferred to local law enforcement, as it has become less than top secret. So police use echelon to catch bad guys, that is a good thing.

        I have no problem with it if the search terms are criminal, but what if the search terms become political? Your rights, my rights, our privacy erodes one wee bit at a time. Young guys like Jason have no clue what their generation has lost. Even worse, their kids will accept that if you say a thing, online or over the phone, ‘they’ can get you.

        It is a reverse ‘generation gap’ to me to see people defending ‘no-knock’ or thirty seconds until we bust down the door methods of police work. It won’t affect me, I am lawful, and live in a peaceful area.

        Pye, if I may, wins on this issue.

        “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Ben Franklin

        • Jason says:

          “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Ben Franklin

          We have a winner!

            • I don’t think you will find anyone who thinks sending in a SWAT team after one stoner with a dime bag is not a complete waste of police resources and the very definition of overkill (no pun intended).

              I will say again though, how many people on here, besides me, have been part of serving a search warrant on a suspect?

              • B Balz says:

                Or the same type of force on a bad tip about somebody’s Grama … no-knocj is a bad, bad precedent, IMHO, that’s all.

                • Could what happened to Kathryn Johnston have been avoided with a warrant that would have required to the cops to say, “Open up, it’s the police!” and after a quick 3 count, broke down the door?

                  Looking at the facts in the case, it is likely that the cops were more to blame.

                  “It was one year ago this week that narcotics officers in Atlanta, Georgia broke into the home of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston.

                  They had earlier arrested a man with a long rap sheet on drug charges. That man told the police officers that they’d find a large stash of cocaine in Johnston’s home. When police forced their way into Johnston’s home, she met them holding a rusty old revolver, fearing she was about to be robbed. The police opened fire, and killed her.

                  Shortly after the shooting, the police alleged that they had paid an informant to buy drugs from Ms. Johnston’s home. They said she fired at them first, and wounded two officers. And they alleged they found marijuana in her home.

                  We now know that these were all lies. In fact, everything about the Kathryn Johnston murder was corrupt. The initial arrest of the ex-con came via trumped-up charges. The police then invented an informant for the search warrant, and lied about overseeing a drug buy from Johnston’s home.

                  Ms. Johnston didn’t actually wound any of the officers. They were wounded by fragments of ricochet from their own storm of bullets. And there was no marijuana. Once they realized their mistake, 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.

                  We now know that it was routine for Atlanta’s narcotics officers to lie on drug warrants. We know that 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.”


                  • B Balz says:

                    Not to argue, but you just made our point, no-knocks are bad precedent:

                    That man told the police officers that they’d find a large stash of cocaine in Johnston’s home. So how was a 90+ year old woman to speedily dispose of the evidence?

                    No-knocks gave bad cops a tool. The fact is we will never know if a regular warrant would have had a similar outcome.

                    • No, a regular warrant would have required only a few seconds wait before the police would be allowed to smash in the door.

                      What is difficult to determine from the articles I was able to find was when the police announced themselves as such, if ever.

  11. saltycracker says:

    It’s a jungle out there.
    No knocks are needed. Conditions mandatory.
    Guns are needed. Licenses and training mandatory.
    Cops are needed. Prosecute/fire bad cops.
    Drugs are a health problem. Prosecute associated crime.

  12. bowersville says:

    Grammar, I’ll respond here instead of up the line. I am not calling you out nor am I trying to criticize your opinions so please don’t take this personal. There maybe others reading your comments that are or will be in decision making and law making authority come January’s legislative session.

    When you said a no-knock at Waco was the proper procedure but poorly executed there are professional law enforcement officers of the day that reviewed this incident from top to bottom and disagree with you. Facts were determined by interviews, eye witness accounts, after action reports, video footage and other investigative tools that were available. Conclusions were based on those facts. Those reports of facts and conclusions are available. Expert testimony is available. There is probably law enforcement eye witness accounts still available.

    The facts and conclusions about how the tip off occurred is in the official reports. The facts and conclusions as to why the cameras and helicopters were at the scene is in the reports. I don’t know of a gentle way to point this out, but your conclusions don’t agree with the law enforcement findings of fact at Waco.

    I hope the conclusions drawn on the issue of no-knock warrants is based on facts instead of emotions.

    • Doug Grammer says:

      It was in 1993. I have forgotten a lot since then, but my common sense tells me when you are serving a warrant, you don’t tell the press and memory serves that the press tipped of the Davidians. I’m not saying that I am an expert on Waco. The situation with a self proclaimed messiah and group that has a large collection of guns is a combustible situation. If Jim Jones were in the US and about to have all of his followers drink the Kool-aid and kill those that don’t, that is a situation where I want the government to come rushing in.

      As I stated earlier, I am all about following the constitution and my personal opinion is that license and insurance checks violate the fourth amendment. But hey, who am I?

  13. As for a historic note, here is the reason that the knock and announce principle has been long held as a common law rule which the SCOTUS did not expressly state was part of the “reasonableness” requirement of the 4th Amendment until Wilson v. Arkansas in 1995. *

    “”But before he breaks it, he ought to signify the cause of his coming, and to make request to open doors . . . , for the law without a default in the owner abhors the destruction or breaking of any house (which is for the habitation and safety of man) by which great damage and inconvenience might ensue to the party, when no default is in him; for perhaps he did not know of the process, of which, if he had notice, it is to be presumed that he would obey it . . . .” Semayne’s Case, 5 Co. Rep. 91a, 91b, 77 Eng. Rep. 195 – 196 (K. B. 1603).

    * The SCOTUS in formally announcing at the common law tradition of “knock and announce” was embodied in the 4th Amendment’s “reasonableness” requirement also stated at the same time that it was not a per se rule.

    “This is not to say, of course, that every entry must be preceded by an announcement. The Fourth Amendment’s flexible requirement of reasonableness should not be read to mandate a rigid rule of announcement that ignores countervailing law enforcement interests.” Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 U.S. 927 (1995).

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