Wednesday, November 22, 2006

...and look where it's gotten us.

Let me get the obligatory joke out of the way: If I gotta die, I want it to be at 92 years old in a shootout with the cops.

Now for the serious part:

Woman, 92, dies in shootout with police

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- Narcotics officers were justified in returning fire on a 92-year-old woman they shot to death as they tried to serve a warrant at her house, a police official said.

Neighbors and relatives said it was a case of mistaken identity. But police said the woman, identified as Kathryn Johnston, was the only resident in the house at the time and had lived there for about 17 years.

Assistant Chief Alan Dreher said the officers had a legal warrant and "knocked and announced" before they forced open the door. He said they were justified in shooting once they were fired upon.

As the plainclothes Atlanta police officers approached the house about 7 p.m. Monday, a woman inside started shooting, striking each of them, said Officer Joe Cobb, a police spokesman.

One was hit in the arm, another in a thigh and the third in a shoulder. The officers were taken to a hospital for treatment, and all three were conscious and alert, police said.

This is where the War on (Some) Drugs has gotten us, folks: After dark, in a bad neighborhood, three men walk up and start banging on the door of a little old lady's house, demanding to be let in. They say they're police. They say they have a warrant. For whatever reason, she doesn't let them in, and they bust down the door. She opens fire, hitting all three. They gun her down.

Turns out she's innocent.


We, as a society, have a lot to be really proud of there, no?

Look, if three burly dudes in street clothes start banging on my door one night and try and force their way into my home, I don't care if they're yelling "Police!" or "Singing Telegram!", that's why I keep a loaded M4 carbine in the house. They're not dressed like cops, and I can think of no reason the police would need to get into my house, so my natural assumption would be that these were home invaders of some sort. If the real police need to talk with me, they can get two guys in stopsign hats and 1 Adam 12 outfits to come knock on my door like civilized people. I, a civilized person myself, will then answer it. They will either say "Miss K., we have a warrant," in which case we'll all go for a ride to the station, call up some lawyers, and get everything as squared away as we can, since this is obviously a mistake, or they will say "Is Mr. Gonzales here? We have a warrant for his arrest," whereupon I will reply
"Why, no; you have the wrong address. Would you like to come in for milk and cookies and to look around and reassure yourselves that there is no Mr. Gonzales here?"
However, when officers in a neighborhood full of brigands dress up like brigands and act like brigands, there should be no shock when citizens like Ms. Johnston respond to their actions as though they were brigands.

How many more Kathryn Johnstons must we kill before we start talking about an exit strategy in the War On Drugs?


Anonymous said...

"Oh, but if she didn't have a nasty old gun she'd be alive today. Bruised and battered, maybe, but alive. See? I told you that gun would get you killed one day!"

Yes, I know people who will see it that way.

shooter said...

I read the quote on drudge. Cops swear up and down they had the right address. Maybe she was pinched for selling the contents of her medicine cabinet. Maybe one of her kids stopped by to use her front stoop as a storefront. We'll never know now, will we? Just have to rely on the Jackboots' version of events. I hope the family gets every penny they deserve, regardless if she did anything wrong to precipitate the warrant.

I give her lots of credit for getting three hits while under fire. I hope she pulled the trigger until it went *CLICK*

Anonymous said...

Oh look, more "law enforcement officers" impersonating lawmen, with the usual bad results.

Didn't the Founding Fathers warn us about standing armies?

Kevin said...

I'm with "shooter." Three hits on three targets under pressure? I hope I can shoot that straight when I'm 92!

On the topic of the War on (some) Drugs, I am again reminded of Milton Friedman's letter to Bill Bennett.

"In Oliver Cromwell's eloquent words, "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken" about the course you and President Bush urge us to adopt to fight drugs. The path you propose of more police, more jails, use of the military in foreign countries, harsh penalties for drug users, and a whole panoply of repressive measures can only make a bad situation worse. The drug war cannot be won by those tactics without undermining the human liberty and individual freedom that you and I cherish.

"You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society. You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are tearing asunder our social fabric, ruining the lives of many young people, and imposing heavy costs on some of the most disadvantaged among us. You are not mistaken in believing that the majority of the public share your concerns. In short, you are not mistaken in the end you seek to achieve. Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore. Of course the problem is demand, but it is not only demand, it is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault. Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs is a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages."

Read the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

Far better to kill 100 innocent civilians, than risk the life of one law enforcement officer.

As they teach cops in officer survivial, "No matter what happens, I am going home to my family at the end of my shift."

Anonymous said...

"about the course you and President Bush urge us to adopt to fight drugs."

Kevin, where on Earth did you get the idea Bush has been especially active in the War On Drugs? Frankly (thankfully?), I think he's been letting it slide, prioritizing and all.

Anonymous said...

The second saddest part about this story is that you know the pigs involved will have no feelings of guilt. They will go home, puff up their chest, and believe in their barely functioning minds that they are protecting their community and doing good. The department will probably pin a medal on them, for their "heroic" actions.
In a truly just world, those cops would be in the ground, and Ms. Johnston would live another 92 years.

bederest said...

I'm shocked at the comment: "Better to kill 100 innocent civilians than one law enforcement officer."
Where is your cave that you live in?
I am a retired military combat veteran and worked in law enforcement after my retirement.
I left law enforcement early because of the "Them-against-us" attitude that many cops have: Some have created a sub-culture and are unable to blend into the culture/community after their shift.
If you want to witness something pathetic, see a former officer who was told (terminated) to leave law enforcement: they do not fit in at all -- they crave the authority that they were stripped of.
It is a fact that society needs these men and women who protect us, but the culture of law enforcement needs to be shook by the shoulders.
When I was in the military, studies by pointy-headed professors said that the military were "out-of-touch" with the civilians: the same can be said about law enforcement!

Anonymous said...

From the facts presented in the article, it seems a bit premature to say "She was innocent." This was not a "right information, wrong house" situation. They had a warrant. They hit the house listed in the warrant. They got shot at.

I see over at Instapundit, the normally quite rational Glenn Reynolds is suggesting that the officers were 10 feet from the woman at the time of the shooting, and therefore concluding they should have "overwhelmed" her instead. Uh, no. He sounds like he's been watching too much TV. (Though in fairness, his idea that raids should be videotaped seems smart to me. It would easily result in 100 convictions of suspects for every IA complaint it substantiated.)

As for Tamara's "milk and cookies" scenario, let me just say that I long for the day when the people I deal with on the street (let alone the people on whom I would serve warrants) are as polite and sensible as Tamara. If they were, we wouldn't have these problems in the first place.

r_mate_e said...


I am no cop lover, and you will find no stronger ally for protecting the 2nd amendment, but I personally know a cop that was killed doing just exactly what you describe in your post. He was in his 1 Adam 12 uniform, cordially knocking on a door serving a warrant, and the next second, he's dead, and a few of his buddies get wounded as well as back-up arrives.

I do, however, agree that this has to stop. There are other ways for the cops to serve these warrants. They can use surveillance and take down the BG at the most opportune time, a Wal Mart parking lot for instance..

Until we as a society stand up and DEMAND that this stop, it will continue. And innocent men and women on both sides of the door will continue to die needlessly..

submandave said...

The report quoted doesn't make sense when you consider the implied chronology:

1. "As the plainclothes Atlanta police officers approached the house about 7 p.m. Monday, a woman inside started shooting"

2. "the officers had a legal warrant and 'knocked and announced' before they forced open the door"

If the officers were fired upon while approaching the house one may reasonably conclude they were justified in returning fire. But is it reasonable to conclude that after taking fire they would then knock and announce befor forcing entry? I'm not a policeman, but it seems to me that forced entry under fire is generally reserved for trained SWAT teams. It seems more likely that police under fire from a house should seek cover, call for backup and hold the house under seige until the backup arrives.

The report seems to me to be two contradictory tales that might, on their own, justify the action. Taken together, though, they tell two tales, and even though I'm not a cop when I get two different absolving stories from my girls about the same event it is usually the case that neither is completely true.

Porta's Cat said...

It is easy to armchair QB the situation without knowing all the facts, but I do know that a large "subculture" of LE is all about wanting to make dynamic entry, and if not in this case, in plenty others.

It would seem a 92 year old woman, or a 23 year old male, singular and in a known location, can be picked up a lot more easily and safely as they walk to the mailbox or the car, than busting down doors and running amuck in the household with adrenalin and testosterone poisoning. Unless there is a very real reason that house has to be entered right then and there, a little bit of quiet watching from afar and noting who comes and goes will typically net you a nice and quiet street arrest with plenty of uniformed cops surrounding everyone and keeping it safe.

However, running in at full steam with an MP5 and a crash helmet makes for much better locker-room tales.

Anonymous said...

So so sad. It'll be interesting to see how the media will spin this to show the evil LEOs and the "gun nut" were both at fault.

Anonymous said...

2. "the officers had a legal warrant and 'knocked and announced' before they forced open the door"

The story has now changed. The current version is that they were executing a no-knock warrant and announced themselves as they took down the door.

Expect further changes to the story until they find one that will cause the least ruckus and the least likelihood of a change to their policies.

Anonymous said...

As always, the victors get to write the history.

Man, does it piss me off everytime I see the attitude that the life of a cop is worth more than the life of a civilian. That is a perfect display of what a lie the whole "serve and protect" thing is.
Bederest, I think 'net leo was merely commenting on, not agreeing with that attitude.

BTW, since Kevin mentioned Milton Friedman, it might be appropriate to note the passing of Mr. Friedman last Thursday.


Anonymous said...

At the agency from which I recently retired, on any warrant where a forced entry was contemplated, it was required that at least one uniformed officer be present at the entry door. Usually, on a drug raid, the Tac Team handled the entry. I am not personally too fond of the full dress black ninja outfits, but at least the heavy duty hard armor, with SHERIFF in large yellow letters, gives the team a bit of fudge factor and makes them rather less anxious to open fire.

I am happy to say that no such operation ever resulted in any gunshot wounds, either to officers or private citizens. Not nearly so glamorous, but it made for a lot better community relations.

Even lower-key, when appropriate to the situation:
Mr. Jones?
Mr. Jones, this is Sergeant Smith at the sheriff's office. Please listen carefully - - We have a warrant for your arrest, and need to take you into custody right now. There are two uniformed deputies in the unmarked car out front of your house. If you'd like to avoid a big scene in front of your neighbors, please come outside and meet the deputies. They'll show you the warrant and we can handle this mater just as quietly as possible . . . .

There's plenty time to explain consequences of refusal to cooperate. It's sometimes difficult to convince people who think in confrontational terms, but any day a peace officer can complete a detail, make the boss happy, and avoid violence, is really a GOOD DAY.


phlegmfatale said...

like submandave, I noted the disparity between two aspects of the story. If she fired on them as they "approached the house" how is it they bothered to knock and announce themselves? Pitiful story, but she sounds like a spunky old gal.

Billy Beck said...

"Kevin, where on Earth did you get the idea Bush has been especially active in the War On Drugs?"

Yo, "Anonymous" II: go read the bleeding letter. That's why it's linked. If you think about it, you might find that American history did not start six years ago. (Jeezis.)

"r_mate_e" -- "I am no cop lover, and you will find no stronger ally for protecting the 2nd amendment, but I personally know a cop that was killed doing just exactly what you describe in your post."

I, for one, don't give a shit in the world. Let me tell you something: I am completely sick and tired of cops moaning about their pussies hurting because they live such lives of dire danger. Fuck 'em. If they don't know what they were getting involved in when they got involved, then I say they deserve everything that comes to them. If they do understand their jobs, then they should shut the fuck up and take it like men. The only possible interest that I might have in the case you're talking about would go to exactly what the charge might have been. There are any number of affairs now in which cops should not be involved in any way, and I'm not surprised at all at -- or even interested in -- the militant incivility rolling throughout the land, now. Tamara has exactly the right approach in mind, but the cops are flagrant aggressors, now, and nobody in the world is morally obligated to stand civilly for that.

"krupke" -- Why don't you learn to figure out what you're reading? Reynolds quoted a reader's e-mail. From your performance here so far, I'm not surprised that you can't sort through this any better than another verse of The Nuremburg Defense.

Let me ask you something, mate: does it remotely concern you that untold numbers of your fellow Americans are beginning to hate your fucking ass with a fury that you can't imagine through those beady eyes of yours?

It should. It really should.

Anonymous said...

"Miss K., we have a warrant," in which case we'll all go for a ride to the station, call up some lawyers. . ."

Right idea, but "call the lawyers" first. One of my lady friends is a redhead with an attitude, a handgun and a law degree, and owes me a favor or three. I keep her phone numbers handy.

Billy Beck--don't sugar coat it; what do you REALLY think??

And BTW, a lumberjack, logger or roofer is a much more dangerous job than cop. But things like this insure that the cops will be catching up.

Anonymous said...

Oh. Almost forgot.

Any drugs found?

Be real interesting to see what the warrant said.

Billy Beck said...

"...what do you REALLY think??"

I think that I would not be surprised to know that -- even now -- investigations will crank up because I'm failing The Attitude Test, big-time, and right out loud.

That's what I really think.

That's where shit like this is going.

Greg Bell said...


You are dead right on this one.

Patterico said...

"Turns out she's innocent."

And this we know . . . how?

Someone in the comment thread asked if drugs were found in the house.

According to news reports, they were.

Here's what we have, according to the information I've seen: cops lawfully execute a valid search warrant on a known drug location where an undercover buy was previously conducted. A woman fires at them, and they return fire, killing her.

On those facts, the cops are doing their job, the woman is a criminal whose death is the result of justifiable homicide (self-defense), and the people criticizing the cops are anti-authoritarian types who are showing little regard for the facts.

Patterico said...

Even if she's not a criminal -- and that's possible -- it's still justifiable for the cops to shoot her if she shoots at them. Regardless of age.

Ofc. Krupke said...

Billy Beck:

Oh dear. Does this mean I'm off your Christmas card list?

Reynolds gets a lot of mail, doesn't post it all, and in the years I've read him, is not shy about dissenting, disagreeing, or clarifying a point of difference with a reader. The words may be the reader's, but Reynolds presents them approvingly. Yours is a distinction without a difference, and does nothing to address the point: stating that because officers were (speculatively) X number of feet from a suspect who had fired on and hit them, that means they they "should" have tackled her, is not reasonable. And I expect better from Reynolds.

Porta's Cat:

Your point about watching for a safer place to arrest the suspect is well taken (though you must admit that arresting someone in the public space when they're surrounded by innocent bystanders presents problems of its own, no?). However, in this case the warrant in question was a search warrant, as opposed to an arrest warrant, so they couldn't have done it anyway.

Ofc. Krupke said...

Also, to the anonymous person guessing that the "pigs" are beating their chests with pride -

It may interest you to know that roughly half the police officers who are involved in justified shootings leave law enforcement entirely before completing their careers. It's a heavy thing to bear.

Q-Ball said...

Interesting gamut of responses.
I gotta say that if someone kicked down my front door, and didn't clearly identify themselves as the police I'd probably do exactly what Kathryn Johnson did, 'cept I'd use a 12 gauge.
1: The big problem with no knock warrants it that, most of the time the cops get the details right, take the shitheads unawares, bust people who would otherwise have scooted out the back door or flushed the evidence. Sometimes however they blow it, wrong addy, wrong street somebody screws up and the best possible outcome is vast embarrasment for the poor schlub that gets knocked on the ground and flex cuffed and the city pays for a new door and probably some hush up money. Worst outcome is the cops mistake the remote for a Raven .25 and the poor schlub gets hosed with an MP5, or the cops kick the door on some dude that just finished cleaning HIS MP5 and it's game on.
2: Anonymous 3, you obviously don't know many if any cops. I do, I'm not a cop, but with 18 years in healthcare, the vast majority of it in emergency rooms, I know a bunch of them. Fact of the matter is most of them are pretty decent people who actually believe in the job they are doing, the serve and protect bit. You should probably go talk too a few of the "pigs" your bashing and find out if they are really the assholes you think they are, 'till then you should shut your ignorant pie-hole.
3: Having said that bederest is dead-on when he talks about the us against them attitude, that cops have. The reason is that 95% of the people they come into contact with are thugs and shitheads. Think about it, you don't usually get called on 0200 domestics for normal people, they're mostly shitheads. I bet it's pretty easy, however wrong, to fall into that us against them mindset. It's a problem and it needs a solution unfortunately it's a difficult problem too solve because the bunch with the problem, the cops, don't realize they have a problem.
4: Billy Beck You're a perfect example of the militant incivility you are pissing about. If you had any inkling of what you're average inner-city cop, especially a cop in a shithole like Atlanta goes through on a day to day basis you would most likely be a little more respectful. As it is you come across as a loudmouth bitch that no one is going to take seriously, mate.

Billy Beck said...

Yo, "q-ball" --

I live in metro-ATL for fifteen years. I used to cruise around East Point on my Harley just to burn gas on two wheels and get the feel for parts of town that were different from where I lived in Tucker and Buford.

Are you getting the picture, yet, "loudmouth", or should I keep whacking your pee-pee with facts that you didn't know?

I've seen Red Dog teams in action. Have you?

I know the whole fucking drill, and this is the part where you get to piss off, with my compliments.

Get it?

Billy Beck said...

I dropped a keystroke: that should be "lived" -- past-tense. It's been four years since I lived there, and I like it that way.

Anonymous said...

One lesson here is that if you're going to have a gun for home defense, you should consider how it will perform versus body armor. Its not just rogue cops who wear bullet resistant vests now, genuine criminals often wear them too. Whatever gun & bullets Ms. Johnson had obviously weren't up to the job, although she still managed to inflict some real hurting. That M4 carbine is a good idea - it will comfortably shoot straight through most types of body armor in use.

Swen said...

"Even if she's not a criminal -- and that's possible -- it's still justifiable for the cops to shoot her if she shoots at them. Regardless of age."

Really? Now what if I, a private citizen, kicked down someone's door and they shot at me, would I be justified in shooting back? Who precipitated the shooting here? Who's apparently changing their story with each repetition? Who springs to mind when you hear the term "testi-lying"? This "we are the law, of course we are above the law" attitude carries a certain smell.

Here's a couple of questions I've put to several criminal attorneys: Have you ever been convinced that a law enforcement officer was lying on the stand? Did you attempt to empeach that officer's testimony? The usual answers are "Yes" and "But I couldn't do that. I have to work with those guys." What can I say but "lie down with dogs..

Anti-authoritarian? you bet your ass! Especially when the authoritarians are coming dangerously close to becoming totalitarians.

Don't take me wrong: It's easy to point the finger at individual police officers, especially when they exhibit the attitude of Officer KupKake (Jeez, people aren't nice to you? I wonder why?), and certainly "just following orders" or "oops, it was a horrible mistake" are not acceptable excuses. However, these guys aren't operating in a vacuum. Rather, they're carrying out the policies of their management, our government. Tamara is absolutely right, this is the natural product of the "war on drugs".

One thing no one's pointed out here: The policy of using storm trooper tactics to enforce the law does, although thankfully on rare occasion, exact a penalty on the suspect far and away beyond any sentence they might have received in court. A certain proportionality seems to be missing when a swat team is dispatched to toss some teenager's room and rough up his entire family because he sold a joint to an undercover officer.

Want someone to blame for this situation? Don't blame the police, blame the assholes you just voted for because they were less assholy than their opponents. Blame the dicks in authority who dismiss our complaints as 'anti-authoritarian whining'. Blame the whole culture that says 51% of the population can vote to criminalize the other 49%.

The lesson to be drawn for our gun-owning citizens: Aim for the crotch.

Anonymous said...

Right idea, but "call the lawyers" first. One of my lady friends is a redhead with an attitude, a handgun and a law degree, and owes me a favor or three. I keep her phone numbers handy.

Fat chance.

(As he throws his hat into the ring)

5 years ago (2001) while I was sleeping on the couch (after falling asleep watching a special on Osama Bin Laden) my then wife let two cops into the house that she had called earlier and reported that I had beat her and my two kids up. I was awaken from my slumber by flashlights shining in my face and I was asked for an explaination of the charges.

After unsuccessfully querrying them as to what the hell they were talking about, as I was completely clueless as to why my wife would do this to me, I informed them that I would no longer talk to them and that I was going to call my lawyer, at which point they both pounced on me and pinned me on the sofa, handcuffed me and walked me out to their cruiser.

I was charged with spousal abuse, child abuse, assaulting an officer, and resisting arrest.

Three years and $160,000 later, I had successfully defeated every charge in both civil and domestic court, got a divorce and JOINT custody of my kids as my ex was diagnosed with three personality disorders by two Phd's in psychology.

The point is that in my experience, two Cops lied to cover their ass.

They even stated in their report that I admitted to beating up my wife!

Two crooked cops totally destroyed my life and turned it upside down to which I am still recovering. I still owe my lawyers about $10K and a bankloan for lawyer fees about $48K. I won't be debt free till 2009 at which point I get to "start my life over".

I still teach my kids to have the utmost respect for LEO. I treat LEO with the utmost respect myself and in the right circumstance, would take a bullet for one.

But in the future, if the POLICE ever come for me again. I will go comatose and clam up until they leave or take me downtown and I won't speak until I am represented by council.

And if they EVER bust into my house warrent or no, I will go the way of the 92 year old grandma, but I guarantee that I will take a couple of headshots with me thanks to my M6 laser sites.

Oh, and as a side affect of gun laws, I can no longer buy a firearm! Because I was simply CHARGED with domestic abuse prevents me from passing the NICS. I can own them. I have a Permit to Carry, but I can not purchase any new firearms because my unlawful "arrest" had an "element" of spousal abuse according to the BRADY law. (letter I got from the FBI as an explaination and interpretations from my attorney.)

Yes, I can fork over another $1500 to get that unlawful arrest expunged, or I can wait 10 years for it to drop off my record.

Thanks coppers, not because of what you did to me so much, I can rebound. But rather the mental and emotional trauma it cost my two kids over those three long years of endless trials in civil, domestic and divorce court.


Anonymous said...

the cops are now saying they came in wearing uniforms, and it was a no-knock warrant. They also said they have now found drugs. Amazing how the story changes.

Matt G said...

There is so much that isn't known here.

Real motive for the warrant?

Real lifestyle of the deceased? (I had heard on the news that her grandson was dealing out of her house. Does that mean he had a lab as well?)

Real method used to serve the warrant? (was the door actually being kicked in?)

Real response from Granny? (Did she shoot at them as they stood calling to her on the porch? As they approached her door? Was there any exchange? Were there obstacles?)

Real response from the cops? (Other than bleeding, and shooting.)

Question: does the brand new street cop that really wants to do right and is presented with a fresh warrant for the felony arrest of a local citizen have a duty to refuse to help serve that warrant because it is entitled "Possession With Intent To Deliver Controlled Substance PG X, Greater Than X Grams"? Is he a bad guy gestapo for saying "Yessir" and covering the approach of the narc detectives who go to make the bust?

If not, is he a bad guy for stopping anyone from shooting those narc detectives who were serving a warrant in good faith?

Recall that the warrant is signed by a judge and orders that the cop "shall" make the arrest. Not "May."

Recall that the warrant is usually a search and arrest warrant, so that the contraband (which was deemed such by your legislature-- not the cops) may be siezed at the same time.

There are many things that you and I don't know, friends. But re-read those last two paragraphs of mine. A lot of y'all are indicting the police who are serving the will of the people, translated as the command of the judges to carry out the laws of the land. While I agree 100% that we need to change our drug laws (being a graduate student in Criminal Justice, a former jailer and a current cop, I have a damned good idea [I daresay a lot better than most] of how drug crimes are costing our society vs. the cost of a war on drugs), I think that lots of people are losing sight of the actual problem, and are blaming the issue on police. I don't think that Tamara is in fact even doing so. Her issue is with the whole stratedgy of a War On Drugs.

Before any of y'all say that the whole tactic was wrong, I'll have to ask you to consider what should have been done, say, if the warrant was for the arrest of a suspect wanted for kidnapping a child, or for possessing a kiddie porn ring setup, with evidence that must be siezed. It's not the tactics to be questioned-- it's the whole strategy.

Billy Beck said...

"A lot of y'all are indicting the police who are serving the will of the people..."

Does that include Kathryn Johnston?

Answer the question, please, because words mean things, and it is plainly evident that none of this was her "will".

The durability of this "will of the people" fallacy is astounding.

"I think that lots of people are losing sight of the actual problem, and are blaming the issue on police."

There is more than a single "actual problem" in all this. Let me point out to you that the police, themselves, could have done considerable honor to their profession if they had been the first to condemn this sort of thing when it originally appeared. That would have been an actual service -- not to some amorphous and entirely fictional "The People" -- but to the liberty, sir, of actual, identifiable, individual Americans (e.g., the late Kathryn Johnston) living under the promise of 1776.

Or is it all a bunch of bullshit?

The question is becoming quite pressing in recent years.

Porta's Cat said...

Porta's Cat:

Your point about watching for a safer place to arrest the suspect is well taken (though you must admit that arresting someone in the public space when they're surrounded by innocent bystanders presents problems of its own, no?). However, in this case the warrant in question was a search warrant, as opposed to an arrest warrant, so they couldn't have done it anyway.

To be quite honest, I did not (and still have not) read the article in question, which is why I did not try to disect the case, itself. My only knowledge of it is what was stated in the posting, and what I have read, comment wise, in other locations and commetaries.

My commentary is more along the lines of taking a "line" or strategy, in much of law enforcement, that promotes the idea of overwhelming force as a "one size fits all" strategey, which it is not. Having done my time in "criminal justice", I can assure you that if you use "overwhelming force", you damn sure better hope your force overwhlems, and immediately. Because if it does not, the initiatve and (often) the advantage shifts to the target and away from the "cops". Three cops on a "no knock" coming in the door in close enough formation that they all got shot were expecting a "body slam" and some high fives, not someone who was going to fight.

That is poor planning, ego, and obviously deadly. And it is "cop mentality". Not the mentality of ALL cops, or most cops, and certainly not good cops, or even "typical" cops. But it is almost uniquley "cop".

Prof. Wright said...

The lesson I've taken from this story is this: If you're serious about defending your rights (whether or not that includes your right to manufacture and sell drugs in your home), don't concern yourself with the "laws of the land." Buy the baddest, armor-piercingest, most powerful gun that you're capable of purchasing and operating. At very least, buy a better gun than the cops'; after all, they outnumber you and are far less principled.

Q-Ball said...

Billy Beck:
Yeah, I get it. I get that you used to live in Atl. and cruise around the city, and that you moved out. Good for you. I get that you paint all cops with one broad brush, which is just as stupid as certain cops painting everybody who's not a cop with the broad brush of "them". I get that you don't like no-knock raids, on that one point we seem to agree.
No, I've never seen a "Red Dog" team in action, nor do I care too.
What I have seen, hundreds of times are the complete and total shitheads that the cops have to deal with every day they go to work. I've been cussed, spit on, bit and slugged by shitheads that the cops drug in. I've been in brawls, in a hospital for Christ's sake, where I am trying to help these thugs, but they are pissed, or drunk, or whacked out on dope, and just lash out at whoever comes close. I'm not complaining about it, I knew what it was going to be like when I signed on, and for the most part I gave as good as I got. But basically I don't give one bleedin’ shit about what the cops do to shitheads that deserve it.
For the sake of discussion I'll give Kathryn Johnson the benefit of the doubt and assume that she was completely innocent. So this mess was an avoidable tragedy. A tragedy that was perpetrated by the cops, largely in reaction to the "militant incivility" of a large percentage of the people that your average big city cop deals with on a day to day basis. It's a vicious circle dude; thugs become more violent and more willing to kill anyone who gets in their way. The cops become more callous and adopt tactics to take down said violent thugs, who then counter those tactics with even greater violence.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. Nietzsche was kind of a wing nut but that sums up the whole damn deal.
Do you get what I'm saying?

Billy Beck said...

"q-ball" -- "I get that you paint all cops with one broad brush, which is just as stupid as certain cops painting everybody who's not a cop with the broad brush of 'them'."

No, sir, it is not, and this is why: cops -- as a uniquely identifiable set of individuals -- claim exclusive authority to wield force against people who are not cops.

You can call that a "broad brush" if you want to, but it happens to be a fact that distinguishes them from us. And more: they stand on that institutional claim even when they're wrong, for no other reason than that they're cops and we're not.

If we're going to talk about "stupid", then I say it's bloody stupid to not face this and understand how dangerous it is to innocent people who're getting shot down for no good reason at all.

You say: "What I have seen, hundreds of times are the complete and total shitheads that the cops have to deal with every day they go to work."

So what? If they're looking for cupcakes and kittens in their work, let them bloody go into child-care.

As for your "vicious circle": Kathryn Johnston wasn't in the "circle" until the cops blew through the door of her home.

Look: these peoples' claims to authority call for commensurate responsibility. They're the ones who are necessarily called upon -- by the very nature of the authority that they assume -- to know exactly what they're doing when they move the way they did against that woman's front door. Nobody else did that.

It doesn't matter that they've had a shitty day at the abyss. They had no right in the world to bring it into this woman's home. None.

Billy Beck said...

Let me tell you something else, "q" --

When they're right, I love cops. I could tell you about a "shithead" one night in Buckhead who went off his beer and summarily knocked-out some poor kid just standing at the bar, and then ran out the door. The was one cop on the scene and about six of us giving chase. Three of us bagged the shithead and were sitting on him when the officer ran up to take him away. It wouldn't have bothered me a bit to see the cop bounce the shithead down the street like a flat basketball, precisely because of the difference between who was right and who'd been a wrong-ass shithead.

More and more and more, however, it's not quite like that anymore, and if you want to talk about "circles", I know goddamned well that anyone paying attention to history can easily see how a lot of recent circles got started and who started them.

And I think you know it, too.

theirritablearchitect said...

ofc. krupke,

"Also, to the anonymous person guessing that the "pigs" are beating their chests with pride -

It may interest you to know that roughly half the police officers who are involved in justified shootings leave law enforcement entirely before completing their careers. It's a heavy thing to bear."

Oh, really? I beg to differ.

Wanna know why? These officers WILL be getting medals for this disgrace. Count on it. I am also sure that they WILL NOT be turning them down, or insisting on NOT having a ceremony regarding it.

I give two licks of a dead wet rat's ass about how these fucking pigs "feel" or how "heavy" these things weigh on them. I am not going to let ANY of that crap slide for anything approaching an excuse. If they were the LEAST bit concerned about any of that, they either wouldn't be cops in the first place, or they WOULD HAVE QUESTIONED THE ORDERS THEY WERE GIVEN.

As Billy Beck pointed out on his blog, these robots, not people, are "unconscionables", and haven't the FIRST thought in their dim little heads about what is right and what is wrong.

If you think that too reductive, I don't give a shit, you are WRONG!

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with your position. In fact, my wife and I had a discussion along these lines a couple of months ago. When I stated that I disagree completely with the no-knock approach, she countered with the standard officer safety and disposal of evidence argument.

My rebutal was essentially:
1) if the evidence is so little and so small that it can be easily disposed of in the time it takes to knock and announce yourself then perhaps more investigation is in order.

2) It is possible to have a dynamic entry team standing by to execute a breach assault in case the uniformed officer is taken under fire. Thus the JBT, excuse me, the lovely LEOs have the best of both worlds.

BTW, yes I have known a LOT of cops. I have been drinking with them, trained with them, and even trained them. WHat this has taught me is that the standard run of the mill cop is not someone I want in my house, invited or not.

q-ball, While I agree that when dealing with monsters on a daily basis means that one must take care to not become a monster, it appears that the cops do not take that care. I too do not care who you have to deal with. I don't care that the thugs are getting more violent. It is not MY problem. Some thug with a badge breaking down my door in the middle of the night, when he should be knocking on the door in daylight that is wrong. Tailor the response for the threat level.

I used to have respect for cops, the cops themselves destroyed that.

As far as who is at fault. I most heartily agree that the legislators are an evil cancer. However, that does not absolve the officers of their responsibility. If they are to protect and serve the Constitution, then perhaps they ought to. That means, making sure that dealing with monsters does NOT turn you into a monster. It also means refusing to enforce immoral or unconstitutional laws. If that means resigning in protest then so be it. If every cop had that moral stature we would not be in the mess that we are.

Remember, "if the police act as an army of occupation, they should not be surprised when the people start acting like the resistance."

Anonymous said...

..."let me just say that I long for the day when the people I deal with on the street...are as polite and sensible as Tamara."

Yeah, well, as Heinlein used to say, an armed Tamara is a polite Tamara.

trainer said...

Would this have happened back when there were foot patrols in the area...beat cops who knew everyone and every house.


Put the cops in squad cars to have fewer of them and they divorce themselves from the community. Do that and the community goes to hell and you need more squad cars...which does nothing for bonding with the community.

Government is about the least efficient type of organization there is, so what makes us think that the cop shop is any smarter or better run.

Of course the alternative, allowing individuals more input into the rule of law, is not an option - is it.

Alan said...

It's a sad commentary on current events when a shooting such as this happens. As for the person who seems to believe that cops get into a shooting and "walk away with no regrets"'re simply wrong. when a person shoots and injures or kills another person there will be regrets and analysis for years, as should be. If you guys read the "quotes" please read the entire "quotes". The UC narcotics cops bought "OUT OF THE SAME HOUSE". Current events. They bought from a male who opened the same door and sold dope to them. Not medicine from a cabinet. Death for turning a blind eye? Hell, no! That should not happen. If you folks think YOU'RE wringing these guys out you ain't seen nothing. They are frozen in the sights of IA, the US Attorney's office, the Georgia Attorney General, the local D.A. and who knows how many "civil rights activists". From having been in the business I believe that there isn't an officer involved anywhere who hasn't barfed his or her supper up over what happened. Some, maybe all, of them will quit the business for good. There was a situation in Georgia where an officer who was in a correct shooting took his own life after months of public ridicule and calls for his head on a platter. If you haven't been there would you please just withold your condemnation until the real facts are in the open? If you weren't standing there with those cops you do NOT have any idea what happened that night. None! If all you want to do is be nasty to the doper who sold the drugs from the open door of the same house. Sure, "everybody" says they had a "no-knock" warrant. Those don't fall out of somebody's pocket every time they pull their hand out. There has to be a safety reason for any judge...(see that word? "Judge"?)... to even issue one of those. And that Judge, like all of you who blame the cops for 100% of this and the lawyers who are firing up the hibachi for some fricaseed cop have extended periods of time to rush to your judgement. The cops had, however, milliseconds while the bullets were coming to them to decide if this lady was a bad guy or a regular citizen making a horrible mistake. Personally, I wish the no-knock warrants were never issued. Just for these times.
And, "Shooter", when you speak of relying on the "jackboots" version, you're obviously referring to the lawyers and IAD people as the jackboots. Their version is what you'll hear. IF you are willing to wait and see what happened. I suspect, however, that you have made your judgement and that it has absolutely no resemblance to actual events. So go right ahead. Just keep in mind that those who wish to make war on ALL cops had better make really good friends with the dopers and scum since they are the ones who will dictate your life once you've done your patriotic duty to help destroy the police.

Anonymous said...

Tam's comments are on the mark. Those who say she'd still be alive if she didn't have a gun are assuming all brigands who come to her door are police. This kind of police tactic is not new. They are killing way too many innocent people with faulty tactics. The officer's supervisors are at fault for allowing this to happen. They knew what was going down. I fully sympathize with the victim.

Billy Beck said...

Al -- "If you weren't standing there with those cops you do NOT have any idea what happened that night."

Oh, well, thank you Sainted Mother Sheehan of the Projects, with your exclusive moral authority through the Brotherhood of the Blood.

Look: I don't need to take a bite of a shit sandwich in order to know its no good. Solzhenitsyn put it this way: "To taste the ocean requires a single drop." He's talking about concepts, and how they can relate facts of reality by abstraction from principles. You're trying to make exactly the same argument as that bloody twit who camped out at Bush's driveway, and it's just nonsense.

Get the fuck off it. If you can't see how bad this is from the bottom up, then you're just a moral gimp.

Anonymous said...

This has been an intesting post, thank you Tam.
I have a question, has this gotten anybody to think about getting on their local civilian oversight committee, or volunteering for grand jury duty? Most of the posts have been thought out, articulate, and proactive one way or the other. As I see it this would be the best way for any non LEO to make a change in the way that his/her local LEO chooses their tatics. When they get "called unto the rug" time and again for this they will mostly likely stop or change. There is also the possiblily of running for local office, anything other then just banter. A lot of people sound upset, but aren't doing anything other then discussing what they think is wrong or right. I'll be the first to say that I may be wrong in thinking this is a good approach, and I'm willing to listen to any ideas on solving a problem.

Ryan Waxx said...

> This is where the War on (Some) Drugs has gotten us, folks:

Um, no. This is where using military tactics for routine arrests has gotten us... don't conflate the two. Unless you are prepared to argue that drug laws cannot be enforced without SWAT raids on grandmothers?

Anonymous said...

How can you say these things? The police were not excucuting some plot to make them look macho. They recieved a warrant to go to a certain house and arrest a man there. They were not proceding on the assumtion that the house was occupied by a 96 year old woman. They were told that the house contained a drug dealer. If two uniformed officers walk up to a house were a drug dealer lives and try to talk it over, he will shoot them. When they did what they were ordered to do, they were shot at. What were they supposed to do, lay down and get shot?