What started with bags of marijuana planted near a suspected street dealer spiraled out of control. Narcotics officers lied to a judge, illegally broke into 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston’s house, fired 39 shots at her – and then one handcuffed her as she lay bleeding before he planted drugs in her basement, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The events of Nov. 21 were almost an “inevitable” outcome of a troubled police unit, a federal prosecutor said yesterday as two former Atlanta narcotics officers pleaded guilty and promised to cooperate in a wider probe of the department.
Investigators charged that Atlanta narcotics officers hoped to satisfy goals set by police commanders by repeatedly lying to obtain search warrants, barging into homes and sometimes restraining innocent people, an atmosphere that led to tragedy. Greg Jones, head of Atlanta’s FBI office, called the officers’ conduct “deplorable” and said the agency will pursue “additional allegations of corruption that other Atlanta police officers may have engaged in similar conduct.” U.S. Attorney David Nahmias vowed a far-reaching investigation into departmental practices. He said he expects to find other cases where officers lied or relied on bad information. “It’s a very ongoing investigation into just how wide the culture of misconduct extends,” Nahmias said. “We’ll dig until we can find whatever we can.”