ATLANTA (AP) - Three former Atlanta police officers who pleaded
guilty to a federal conspiracy charge in the death of an elderly
woman during a botched drug raid have expressed remorse for their
involvement and have asked a judge for lenience.
Jason R. Smith, Gregg Junnier and Arthur Tesler previously
pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate civil rights resulting in
the death of Kathryn Johnston. The 92-year-old woman was killed by
police during a 2006 raid at her northwest Atlanta home.
Police originally said officers went to Johnston's home after an
informant bought drugs there. But prosecutors say the officers
found no drugs and tried to cover up the mistake by planting
marijuana and conspired to lie to federal investigators.
Friends and family members of the men testified that they were
valuable members of the community and made a mistake.
U.S. District Judge Julie E. Carnes heard testimony describing
Johnston as an independent woman determined not to move even as the neighborhood became more dangerous.
Prosecutor Paige Fitzgerald said Johnston had no way of knowing
the men breaking down her door were police. Johnston fired a single
shot, but didn't hit anyone. Prosecutors say officers fired 39
bullets and hit her five or six times.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)