Johnston was in her Neal Street home of 17 years on Nov. 21, 2006 when officers, acting on a warrant that allowed them to enter without knocking, cut down burglar bars Johnston had installed and broke her door down. The elderly resident raised a pistol she kept in her home for safety and fired. They returned fire and shot at her 39 times, hitting her at least six times. As Johnston lay dying, the officers handcuffed her and planted marijuana they'd recovered from a different raid in her house. No other drugs were found in Johnston's home.
Investigators would later find that the paperwork stating that drugs were in Johnston's home, the basis for the no-knock warrant, was obtained based on false information. After an extensive local and federal probe, four officers pleaded guilty and were sentenced to federal prison terms, one received probation, two were fired, one resigned and six were disciplined. In 2010, then Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced a $4.9 million settlement with the family.