Today's AJC Deja News comes to you from the Wednesday, November 22, 2006, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It's been 13 years since 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston was shot to death in her Neal Street home by Atlanta police in an illegal drug raid. Her Nov. 21, 2006, killing prompted an investigation that rocked the department, with four APD officers receiving federal prison terms while others resigned or were disciplined or fired for the roles in the scandal.

Since that time, Johnston's English Avenue neighborhood has changed from a crime-ridden area to one where urban gardens grow and, as a way to help bridge the gap between the community and police, some APD officers live in rent-free homes. In Aug. 2018, the city council announced plans to name a park after her. Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park is located only a few blocks from where Johnston was killed.



MORE DEJA NEWS>> Check out what we’ve covered before (and again)

This month, the city council OK'd installation of a plaque honoring the late Ivory Lee Young, Jr., at the Park. Young, who introduced the legislation to name the park after Johnston, served four terms as a councilman prior to his death last year at age 56 from cancer.

The English Avenue park boasts greenspace, fitness stations and a playground, a marked difference from the community Sarah C. Dozier, Johnston's niece, described to the AJC's Jeffry Scott and S.A. Reid in 2006.

Credit: Family photo

Credit: Family photo

“Dozier said she talked to her aunt every day and the conversation was often about crime in the neighborhood,” Scott and Reid reported.

“Every window in her home and every door on her home has burglar bars,” Dozier told the AJC. “I talked to her the other day about a 72-year-old who was raped. I know she was just scared.”

MORE PHOTOS>> Kathryn Johnston’s death

The details of the raid, and Johnston’s death, are lurid.

"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 at from the home," the AJC's Ernie Suggs wrote in a 2010 article. "After officers kicked in the door, [she] 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 had been recovered from a different raid."

The city ultimately paid Johnston's family $4.9 million in a settlement.

Johnston's death spurred Buckhead businessman John Gordon to found Friends of English Avenue, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in the area through green-space development and public safety initiatives.

"The death of Kathryn Johnston ... brought a reawakening not only in the community, but in the city to communities like English Avenue," the Rev. Anthony Motley, pastor of Lindsey Street Baptist Church, told the AJC's Eric Stirgus in 2008.

The ordinance proposed by Young, who represented the area, testifies to the goal of keeping Johnston's legacy in the minds of Atlanta citizens, whether they live in her old neighborhood or elsewhere.

“The City would like to ensure tragedies like these never happen again,” the ordinance reads, “and believe that this honorable resident’s sacrifice, once memorialized, will serve as a constant reminder of the ongoing efforts to insure we not only remember, but continue to educate and prevent future tragedies.”


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