Updated: 6:29 a.m. Thursday, June 10, 2010 | Posted: 9:39 p.m. Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Two Atlanta officers fired after internal investigation into shooting
By Ernie Suggs
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Two Atlanta police officers involved in the 2006 fatal shooting of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston were fired after an internal investigation found they lied and falsified documents; another officer resigned and six more were disciplined, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution learned on Wednesday.
The latest round of fallout in the botched drug raid means 14 officers have been cited for some form of misconduct in the incident, including five who earlier pleaded guilty to federal charges, with four now serving prison sentences.
Officers Carey Bond and Holly Buchanan recently were terminated by interim Police Chief George N. Turner, who will hold a news conference on Thursday to further address his actions.
“These disciplinary actions conclude an exhaustive internal investigation into a tragic incident that resulted in the erosion of the public’s trust in the Atlanta Police Department,” Turner told the AJC on Wednesday. “We expect our officers to uphold the law and follow department policies and procedures. We hope we have learned from this incident and can move forward with restoring trust and mending the relationship between the police department and the community.”
Johnston was killed when a police drug unit tried to execute a “no-knock” warrant on her home, using information provided by an informant who claimed he had purchased drugs from the home. After officers kicked in the door, the elderly Johnston reached for a gun and fired one shot. Police returned fire, killing her. No drugs were found and officers planted drugs in the home that were recovered from a different raid.
Bond and Buchanan, both veteran officers, each were charged with two counts of violating the department’s truthfulness policy and one count of violating department policy. They have been accused of falsifying incident reports and affidavits on search warrants. Bond is a 17-year APD officer; Buchanan has 14 years in the department. Their firings become effective on June 18.
Brad Burchfield, an eight-year officer, resigned while facing one count of violating the truthfulness policy and one count of submitting a false report. The internal investigation alleged that he purchased drugs at one location but entered a different address on a search warrant. He quit his job while the investigation surrounding him was still active.
Maurice Guerin, an 11-year officer, was charged with one count of failure to follow police procedure. The report stated he didn't adhere to a directive when utilizing a drug buy from an informant. He will receive a five-day suspension.
Five other officers received written reprimands for minor infractions related to the Johnston case.
The internal investigation results, offered by the APD's Office of Professional Standards, came days after a scalding report by the Citizens Review Board, which blasted the department’s role in and response to the 2006 fatal shooting. The CRB report, released on May 24, said that APD drug investigators were willing to break rules -- foremost by lying -- to obtain search warrants. The CRB was created in 2007 in direct response to the Johnston killing.
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