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“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”     Thomas Jefferson

November 22, 2006

Another Victim of the Drug War

by Brad Warbiany

Sad day here in Atlanta…

Woman, 92, killed in police shootout

A 92-year-old Atlanta woman is dead after she opened fire and shot three undercover narcotics officers serving a search warrant on her home.

At a news conference Tuesday night, Atlanta assistant police Chief Alan Dreher said the unidentified woman was alone in the house when the officers arrived and announced themselves. He said the shootout erupted when they were refused entry and broke down the front door.

The three officers were wounded and were all listed in stable condition Tuesday night.

The woman died of gunshot wounds in her home, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

While police did not name the woman, Sarah Dozier identified her as her aunt, Kathryn Johnston, who kept an old pistol in the high-crime neighborhood.

But I’m sure this 92-year-old woman was a big-time dealer, huh?

PS – From the description given, it seems clear that the officers were justified in returning fire after this woman shot at them. My argument is that they never should have been there in the first place.

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  1. 10 bucks says it was a case of mistaken identity, or a wrong address on the warrant, or some kind of bureaucratic error.

    I also note that they didn’t say they found anything, either.

    Comment by Libertarian Jason — November 22, 2006 @ 6:21 am
  2. What was more disgusting is that this morning on Fox News, they lied about the shooting. They claimed the cops knocked and asked politely and the woman just began shooting.

    Comment by Kevin — November 22, 2006 @ 6:43 am
  3. Leave it to Fox.

    Comment by Eric — November 22, 2006 @ 7:12 am
  4. [...] Like Brad, I agree that the police, once fired upon, were justified in firing back to protect themselves. The problem is, why were they there in the first place ? This was obviously a case of mistaken identity and the use of force was just a sample of what is brought to bear every day in America’s continued war against (some) recreational drugs.   [link] [...]

    Pingback by Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » Drug War Claims 92 Year-Old Victim — November 22, 2006 @ 9:32 am
  5. We’ll have to see how this unfolds – Atlanta Police press conference didn’t provide much new information about how this happened, but they did indicate that there was an undercover drug buy from a male at the residence earlier in the afternoon, and that’s why the warrant was issued.

    If it turns out that this isn’t some horrible case of mistake of address… I wonder who did they buy from and where are they now???

    Comment by Dave — November 22, 2006 @ 9:32 am
  6. The bottom line is that you there’s absolutely NO reason to use dynamic entry tactics when you’re raiding a non-violent offender. No-knock raids create these kinds of situations.

    Fyi, Radley Balko’s got a lot more coverage over at his place.

    Comment by mike — November 22, 2006 @ 9:55 am
  7. A guy who lived at the address was dealing from that house. The news conference also revealed the cops announced themselves then kicked down the door when the woman shot at them.

    Comment by Zeebs — November 22, 2006 @ 10:09 am
  8. No knock raids are one of the inevitable consequences of our modern Prohibition, as are the gang wars, deaths to dirty drugs, crime, violence, prostitution, glorification of the drug gangster culture and all the rest.

    Friedman’s open letter to Bill Bennett says it more eloquently than I could have.

    Comment by Eric — November 22, 2006 @ 10:14 am
  9. Hmmm, I wonder if there were any other witnesses, or just one dead one?

    Comment by Eric — November 22, 2006 @ 10:15 am
  10. Zeebs, according to the news conference the police actually announced themselves AS they were kicking in the door.

    Comment by mike — November 22, 2006 @ 10:33 am
  11. No-knock entry protects lives of the police.

    Conflicting news reports do indicate the word of a dealer, seen selling outside this address, was used in obtaining the warrant.

    If you did not know the full nature of the situation, and believed there may be armed and dangerous drug dealers inside, would you politely knock at the door hoping to have 3 policemen shot?

    Apparently they did announce themselves in some fashion. The first shots came from inside the house. Drug dealing is often a violent and deadly occupation. I have to side with the police until some evidence surfaces pointing to their negligence.

    Comment by Larry Stanley — November 22, 2006 @ 11:52 am
  12. Larry,

    As I mentioned, I’m not saying the police who fired were in the wrong in any way, as they fired after being fired upon.

    What I’m saying is that we need to look at what brought the officers to this woman’s door. That may be negligence on the part of whoever approved this warrant, or whoever didn’t bother to investigate whether this alleged drug dealer was simply selling drugs on the property, or whether the dealer actually lived there. There may certainly be negligence involved, although I doubt it was with the officers on the scene last night.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — November 22, 2006 @ 12:07 pm
  13. Sorry, the government is never right until proven so. Police should ALWAYS err on the side of protecting the innocent. Given that there are many people wrongly facing drug warrants and no knock entry, it is incumbent on the police to demonstrate how that protects the lives, safety and welfare of the citizens, which is their primary duty. They are our servants, we are not theirs.

    Comment by Adam Selene — November 22, 2006 @ 12:12 pm
  14. From the news accounts I’ve seen, these plainsclothed policemen, in a no-knock entry, battered the door down of a 92-year-old woman who understandably shot in self-defense what she thought were intruders (screaming that you are the cops while battering down a door might not be an effective way to ”annouce yourself”). This elderly woman, who reportedly lived alone, was fired at with over 100 rounds of ammo. My question is-how difficult could it be for police to check and find out prior to storming this house that an elderly woman lived there, as was widely known in this neighborhood? The police state that a narcotics buy was made there the previous day from a young man. Even IF this does prove to be true (the police refused to name a suspect and have made no arrests) did these officers check or take into consideration that an old woman was the primary (and possibly only) resident? If not, this certainly seems negligent to me. Just because “drug dealing is often a violent and deadly occupation” does not mean that the police have the right to break into a home and shoot a most likely completely innocent old woman who feared for her life. I am sympathetic to the danger and difficulties of police work (in fact, my brother is a cop) but not doing a proper investigation before commiting  a dangerous and extreme action such as this is unexcusable.”Oops, we’re sorry” doesn’t cut it.

    Comment by Mary Sales — November 22, 2006 @ 1:11 pm
  15. Argh, while I’ve been for the legalization of drugs for several years, I’ve never once used the argument that the drug war costs way too much in lives and money.

    Which doesn’t mean I haven’t recognized that fact, just that I think it’s ancillary to the central point that drug use in and of itself is no crime.

    Still this is possibly a perfect illustration of what happens when overzealous police basically duplicate the actions of a common robber.

    Comment by Nick — November 23, 2006 @ 1:05 am
  16. Nick,

    the argument that drugs are not a crime carries no weight with Mrs. Grundy. The argument that drug prohibition creates violence and additional crime may. And, certainly, the violence and crime brought to our society by the War on Drugs is far and away worse than any possible impact of drug use itself.

    Comment by Adam Selene — November 23, 2006 @ 12:14 pm
  17. [...] The Drug War has brought more crime and violence to our neighborhoods. It has created cheaper, stronger, more addictive drugs. Crack, for example, would not have been invented if the black market price of cocaine had not been so high and the availability so limited. Kathryn Johnson would not have been killed by a fusillade of over 100 bullets, fired by thuggish cops, if not for the Drug War. [...]

    Pingback by The Liberty Papers»Blog Archive » The Case for Change — November 25, 2006 @ 11:06 am
  18. [...] There have been several posts here this week about what can go wrong when police execute a so-called no-knock search warrant, or more generally when they shoot first and ask questions later. In Atlanta, in resulted in the death of a 92 year-old woman. And, in New York, the shoot-first-ask-questions-later philosophy resulted in the death of a 23 year-old father on the eve of his wedding. [...]

    Pingback by The Liberty Papers»Blog Archive » The Problem With No-Knock Raids — November 26, 2006 @ 5:02 am

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