AJC Deja News: Kathryn Johnston killed in illegal police drug raid of home
A review of the news that made The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s front pages through the decades.
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A Janssen Robinson mural is painted on the plywood of the boarded-up house where Kathyrn Johnston, 92, was killed by Atlanta police in 2006. The Rev. Anthony Motley (left) and John Gordon look at the image of Kathryn Johnston.
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.”
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."
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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