More on the Tragic Raid
The confidential informant on whose word Atlanta police raided the house of an 88-year-old woman is now saying he never purchased drugs from her house and was told by police to lie and say he did.
Chief Richard Pennington, in a press conference Monday evening, said his department learned two days ago that the informant — who has been used reliably in the past by the narcotics unit — denied providing information to officers about a drug deal at 933 Neal Street in northwest Atlanta.
“The informant said he had no knowledge of going into that house and purchasing drugs,” Pennington said. “We don’t know if he’s telling the truth.”
The search warrant used by Atlanta police to raid the house says that a confidential informant had bought crack cocaine at the residence, using $50 in city funds, several hours before the raid.
In the document, officers said that the informant told them the house had surveillance cameras that the suspected drug dealer, called “Sam,” monitored.
Pennington on Monday evening said the informant told the Internal Affairs Unit hat he did not tell officers that the house had surveillance equipment, and that he was asked to lie.
The story of the raid doesn’t sound very reassuring either:
The police chief said officers found marijuana inside the house but “not a large quantity.” The officers were not wearing uniforms but had on bulletproof vests with “Police” emblazoned across the front and back. And they identified themselves as they burst through the doors, police said.
Johnston grabbed a rusty six-shot revolver and emptied it. Five shots struck the officers, hitting one of them three times. The other two were each hit once. The officers returned fire, shooting Johnston twice in the chest and elsewhere, police have said.
The three officers were released from the hospital the next day. They are on leave with pay.
Let’s see, non-uniformed officers announced themselves as they “burst through the door” of a 88 (or 92) year old woman. Something clearly went terribly wrong. Of course, we don’t know whether this informant is actually telling the truth (and I’m not sure why the age of the woman has changed), but, no matter what, this does not paint a very competent picture of the Atlanta Police Department. The FBI has been called in to investigate.
The AJC has a pdf of the warrant available also. I’m not used to looking at warrants, so maybe someone with a little more experience with them could comment on it.
[Quick Update]: It’s a little unfair of me not to mention that I think that Chief Pennington is doing a decent job of responding to this situation (apparently, he was out of down in the initial days after). He seems genuinely concerned about this incident and is taking appropriate measures to get to the bottom of it.