ATLANTA (Reuters) - Three former Atlanta police officers, who shot dead a 92-year-old woman at her home in a botched drug raid and then lied about it to cover their tracks, were all sentenced to prison terms on Tuesday.
The shooting of Kathryn Johnston at her home in Atlanta in November 2006 raised national questions about police corruption and brutality, as well as civil rights abuses. It led to the disbandment and reform of the city’s narcotics squad.
The officers received sentences ranging from five to 10 years for conspiring to violate civil rights resulting in death, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They are not eligible for parole under the federal justice system.
The officers burst into Johnston’s home to search for drugs an informant had wrongly told them were inside. They used a warrant obtained using false evidence that allowed them to enter without first knocking.
Apparently thinking the officers were robbers, Johnston, who was armed, fired a shot through the door. The officers fired 39 shots in response, killing her.
The officers falsified a story to cover themselves. But it unraveled in the face of a federal investigation and all of them eventually pleaded guilty.
“Officers who think ... that the ends justify the means or that ‘taking shortcuts’ and telling lies will not be discovered and punished should realize that they are risking their careers and their liberty,” U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said.
U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes sentenced Jason Smith to 10 years, Gregg Junnier to six years and Arthur Tesler to five years. They were also told to pay $8,180 in restitution for Johnston’s funeral and burial.
Writing by Matthew Bigg; Editing by Jim Loney and Eric Walsh
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