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Atlanta police officers charged in killing of woman, 88

Story Highlights

• Three police officers indicted, two on felony murder charges
• Two of three expected to enter into plea bargain, attorney says
• Police said they raided home on informant's tip; informant denies story
• Woman, 88, shot to death in botched drug raid at her home
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Three Atlanta, Georgia, police officers were indicted Thursday -- two on felony murder charges -- in the shooting death of an elderly woman during a botched drug raid on Thanksgiving eve.

Fulton County Superior Court documents show Officer Gregg Junnier was indicted by a local grand jury on charges of three counts of felony murder, two counts of burglary and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Officer Jason Smith was charged with four counts of felony murder, two counts of false statements, two counts of burglary and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to the indictments.

Junnier, who retired from the force after the shooting, and Smith are expected to enter into a plea bargain agreement when they appear in court Thursday afternoon, an attorney for one of the men said.

Officer Arthur Tesler has been charged with making false statements and false imprisonment, the documents show. His attorney has said Tesler, who had been on the force only eight months, will fight the charges.

No other details were provided.

All three were involved in the serving of a "no-knock" warrant on Kathryn Johnston's home November 21. Johnston's family gave her age as 92, but a medical examiner said she was 88.

The attorney for one of the men said all three will also appear before a federal grand jury investigating the shooting.

Three officers wounded

Police initially said that Johnston fired at them with an old pistol, and they shot back in self-defense.

Junnier, Smith and Officer Cary Bond, who was not charged in the shooting, sustained gunshot wounds in the incident. Tesler was not wounded.

A police spokesman an informant named "Sam" said he had bought illegal drugs at Johnston's home, west of downtown Atlanta.

Their story began to fall apart after the informant said he had never been to the home.

"The officers are saying one thing. The confidential informant is saying something else," Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington said.

Investigators in November said a small amount of marijuana was found in the home after the raid.

Neighbors and relatives said the raid had to have been a mistake. Johnston lived alone and was so afraid of crime in the neighborhood that she wouldn't let neighbors who delivered groceries for her come in, they said.

Pennington said the eight-member narcotics squad that took part in the raid had been placed on paid leave during the investigation.


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