Skip to main content
Home World U.S. Weather Business Sports Analysis Politics Law Tech Science Health Entertainment Offbeat Travel Education Specials Autos I-Reports
U.S. News

Elderly woman's family seeks federal probe of shooting

Story Highlights

Family says 92-year-old shooting victim was 'fearful' and lived alone
Police say they are sure the had the right house and had "no-knock" warrant
Police say they found suspected drugs now being lab-tested
Three injured officers on paid administrative leave and expected to fully recover
Adjust font size:
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- As family members spent Thanksgiving Day boarding up the home of a 92-year-old woman who was shot to death during a police drug raid, their spokesman said they will request a federal investigation.

"Given recent statements by Atlanta's Assistant Police Chief Alan Dreher and Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, the family and I have serious and, we believe, founded doubt that absent intense federal oversight, a comprehensive investigation will ever ensue," said the Rev. Markel Hutchins, who has been advising the family of Kathryn Johnston.

Hutchins said he planned to travel to Washington next week to hand-deliver a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' office requesting a federal investigation of the incident. (Watch niece's outrage over shooting. -- 2:55)

Meanwhile Thursday, the Atlanta Police Department asserted that the narcotics team who raided the home Tuesday and fatally shot Johnston after she shot and wounded three officers is sure it had the right house.

Police spokesman Joe Cobb said the three officers on that team had made an undercover drug buy earlier in day from a man inside Johnston's home west of downtown Atlanta.

Police said they obtained a "no-knock" search warrant within hours of making the buy and went back to the house to serve it. But Dreher said the officers did announce themselves right before they broke the burglar bars and wood door to get inside.

Johnston, who relatives said lived alone, fired at officers with a revolver as they entered her home, wounding three, Dreher said. At least one of the officers fired back, killing the woman, he said.

The injured officers are expected to fully recover, Dreher said, and are on administrative leave with pay while the investigation is under way.

No-knock warrants allow police to enter a home or building without announcing their presence or identity. They are commonly used in narcotics cases when it is feared that the suspects may try to dispose of drugs or evidence in the time it takes authorities to gain access to the home.

But Dreher said Wednesday that officers had a marked patrol vehicle in the street in front of the home, a uniformed officer in the yard, and the narcotics teams wore vests with "POLICE" marked clearly on the front and back.

Two of Johnston's neighbors, Nina Robinson and Sallie Strickland, said the elderly woman was fearful and never let anyone into her home. Strickland said Johnston wouldn't even let her come in when she brought groceries for her, instead telling Strickland to leave them on the porch.

Police have not released the search warrant or the affidavit supporting it. Cobb said Georgia's open records law allows police to withhold evidence -- including 911 tapes and search warrants -- during an open investigation.

After the shooting, the search was conducted and officers did find suspected narcotics that are being tested at a laboratory, Dreher said.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of the man who allegedly sold the undercover officers drugs earlier that day in the home, which is in a neighborhood known for drug activity, police said.

Howard previously has said his office was investigating the shooting, and said he had requested that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation ensure all forensic evidence is collected. Dreher has also promised a "complete, thorough and fair investigation."

Hutchins said he has spoken with Reps. John Lewis and Cynthia McKinney of Georgia regarding the shooting.

"As this horrific incident has all of the signs of an egregious violation of Ms. Johnston's civil and human rights at worst, and police officers using poor judgment and unnecessary force at best, I appealed for both of their support and assistance in our efforts to get an immediate audience with the United States Department of Justice," he said.



Quick Job Search
  More Options
International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise with Us About Us Contact Us
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
SERVICES » E-mails RSSRSS Feed PodcastsRadio News Icon CNNtoGo CNN Pipeline
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more