Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cops Indicted for Murder

Cops Indicted for Murder

Reported by: Elaine Reyes
Web Editor: Tracey Christensen
Last Modified: 4/26/2007 1:26:30 PM

A grand jury returned murder indictments against two Atlanta police officers for the botched drug raid that ended in the death of a 92-year-old woman last November. A third officer was indicted on lesser charges of making false statements, false imprisonment and violating his oath of office.

The grand jury issued the indictments Wednesday but they were not read until a court hearing Thursday morning (read the charges). The two officers indicted on felony murder charges -- Jason R. Smith and recently retired officer Gregg Junnier -- were due in court to enter their pleas in the case early Thursday afternoon. The third officer who does not face murder charges, Arthur Tesler, will try to get bond.

Both Smith and Junnier are reportedly working on plea deals. Tesler, who maintains that he was in the back of the house when Kathryn Johnston was shot to death, refused to make a deal and was indicted on the least serious charges.

"There were some mistakes made, but Officer Tesler was the low man on the totem poll. He was the junior officer and he was following the instructions of his senior officers," said his attorney, Bill McKenny.

Tesler had been on the force just eight months when the drug raid took place after the undercover narcotics officers obtained a no-knock warrant. When they stormed Johnston's Neal Street home searching for cocaine, she opened fire with a gun she kept for protection. The officers returned fire, killing Johnston.

Tesler was one of two officers to make a statement to the grand jury as they considered the case Wednesday. His attorney said he believes that statement is the reason the grand jury indicted his client on lesser charges.

"I guess you know his wife is pregnant. They cried, they hugged and they're just trying to calm down now. Again, the pressure's gonna build up because obviously there's an indictment but the big pressure has been released a little bit," said McKenny.

Officer Smith was indicted on 13 charges -- the most of all three officers. The charges include four felony murder counts, violation of his oath of office, false statements, burglary, and perjury.

Junnier was indicted on nine charges, including three felony murder counts, violation of his oath of office, false statements and burglary.

Speaking for Johnston's family, the Rev. Markel Hutchins said the woman's closest relatives are pleased with the indictments. Hutchins said Johnston should be viewed as a hero for exposing corruption in the police department.

"This was a time bomb waiting to explode. It exploded and ended in the death of Kathryn Johnston and this community, in fact this nation, owes a great debt of gratitude to Kathryn Johnston so one of the things that we're going to continue to call for is that the city of Atlanta will honor her because she really is, she really is a hero, even in death," said Rev. Hutchins.

Hutchins want a memorial to Johnston expanded into a park for children in her neighborhood to play.

1 comment:

Berita dari gunung said...

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