Pubdate: Fri, 27 Apr 2007
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2007 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Rhonda Cook, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Bookmark: (Policing - United States)
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Feds Detail Woman's Death, Officers' Plea

According to federal documents released Thursday, these are the events
that led to Kathryn Johnston's death and the steps the officers took
to cover their tracks.

Three narcotics agents were trolling the streets near the Bluffs in
northwest Atlanta, a known market for drugs, midday on the Tuesday
before Thanksgiving.

Eventually they set their sights on some apartments on Lanier Street,
usually fertile when narcotics agents are looking for arrests and seizures.

Gregg Junnier and another narcotics officer went inside the apartments
around 2 p.m. while Jason Smith checked the woods. Smith found dozens
of bags of marijuana -- in baggies that were clear, blue or various
other colors and packaged to sell. With no one connected to the pot,
Smith stashed the bags in the trunk of the patrol car. A use was found
for Smith's stash 90 minutes later: A phone tip led the three officers
to a man in a "gold-colored jacket" who might be dealing. The man,
identified as X in the documents but known as Fabian Sheats, spotted
the cops and put something in his mouth. They found no drugs on
Sheats, but came up with a use for the pot they found earlier.

They wanted information or they would arrest Sheats for

While Junnier called for a drug-sniffing dog, Smith planted some bags
under a rock, which the K-9 unit found.

But if Sheats gave them something, he could walk.

Sheats pointed out 933 Neal St., the home of 92-year-old Kathryn
Johnston. That, he claimed, is where he spotted a kilogram of cocaine
when he was there to buy crack from a man named "Sam."

They needed someone to go inside, but Sheats would not do for their
purposes because he was not a certified confidential informant.

So about 5:05 p.m. they reached out by telephone to Alex White to make
an undercover buy for them. They had experience with White and he had
proved to be a reliable snitch.

But White had no transportation and could not help.

Still, Smith, Junnier and the other officer, Arthur Tesler, according
to the state's case, ran with the information. They fabricated all the
right answers to persuade a magistrate to give them a no-knock search

By 6 p.m., they had the legal document they needed to break into
Kathryn Johnston's house, and within 40 minutes they were prying off
the burglar bars and using a ram to burst through the elderly woman's
front door. It took about two minutes to get inside, which gave
Johnston time to retrieve her rusty .38 revolver.

Tesler was at the back door when Junnier, Smith and the other
narcotics officers crashed through the front.

Johnston got off one shot, the bullet missing her target and hitting a
porch roof. The three narcotics officers answered with 39 bullets.

Five or six bullets hit the terrified woman. Authorities never figured
out who fired the fatal bullet, the one that hit Johnston in the
chest. Some pieces of the other bullets -- friendly fire -- hit
Junnier and two other cops.

The officers handcuffed the mortally wounded woman and searched the

There was no Sam.

There were no drugs.

There were no cameras that the officers had claimed was the reason for
the no-knock warrant.

Just Johnston, handcuffed and bleeding on her living room

That is when the officers took it to another level. Three baggies of
marijuana were retrieved from the trunk of the car and planted in
Johnston's basement. The rest of the pot from the trunk was dropped
down a sewage drain and disappeared.

The three began getting their stories straight.

The next day, one of them, allegedly Tesler, completed the required
incident report in which he wrote that the officers went to the house
because their informant had bought crack at the Neal Street address.
And Smith turned in two bags of crack to support that claim.

They plotted how they would cover up the lie.

They tried to line up one of their regular informants, Alex White, the
reliable snitch with the unreliable transportation.

The officers' story would be that they met with White at an abandoned
carwash Nov. 21 and gave him $50 to make the buy from Neal Street.

To add credibility to their story, they actually paid White his usual
$30 fee for information and explained to him how he was to say the
scenario played out if asked. An unidentified store owner kicked in
another $100 to entice White to go along with the play.

The three cops spoke several times, assuring each other of the story
they would tell.

But Junnier was the first to break.

On Dec. 11, three weeks after the shooting, Junnier told the FBI it
was all a lie. 
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