Search warrant and affidavit in the Atlanta SWAT shooting case is online

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's website has a link to the affidavit and search warrant in the search that led to the death of Kathryn Johnston on November 21st, previously posted here.

The no-knock provision was based on the alleged surveillance cameras that the informant reported to the police which showed up in the affidavit. (No surveillance cameras or monitors were found.) The affidavit for the search warrant also described the house as having a wheelchair ramp in the front. The latter would seem to be a tip off to the police that there was somebody else in the house besides the alleged drug dealer, if they had bothered to investigate.

Something a little different: The Washington Post has an editorial yesterday about the minor discipline meted out to a Fairfax SWAT team member who accidentally shot an optometrist who they were sent to arrest for being an alleged bookie.  The shooting was only tangential to the arrest, but why was the officer's finger on the trigger and the gun pointed toward the non-violent suspect that somebody felt compelled to send the SWAT team to arrest?  All dressed up with no place to go?

For months before this egregious shooting, an undercover police detective had been placing bets with Mr. Culosi, who had no criminal record; had never owned a firearm; and presented no threat of violence, flight or resisting arrest. It is still unclear, 10 months after the fact, why despite that profile police decided to arrest Mr. Culosi with a SWAT team, which is trained and equipped for use in dangerous situations. After Mr. Culosi's death, the police department said it would conduct a review of policies and procedures involving the use of such teams. But if there was such a review, its results have not been made public. One wonders if the SWAT team in Fairfax, lacking frequent opportunities to respond to situations involving imminent danger and threats, is deployed simply to give its officers something to do. If so, that's bad policy and bad policing.

Mr. Bullock, a 17-year veteran of the police force, was trained in firearms and tactics. He well knew that during a routine arrest, his finger should not have been on the trigger and his gun should not have been pointed at the suspect. So it is no real excuse that, in jumping from his car, the car door bounced back, striking him in the side and causing him to pull the trigger. Like people in other lines of work who make disastrous mistakes, Mr. Bullock should be held accountable for his actions, even though they were unintentional. The chief prosecutor in Fairfax, Robert F. Horan Jr., already declined to prosecute Mr. Bullock or refer the case to a grand jury, yet now police union officials howl that even a three-week suspension is unfair. It's not. It is in fact little more than symbolic discipline. But in such a case symbolism is important and well placed.

Is this the kind of "professional" police and internal discipline that Justice Scalia was referring to in Hudson v. Michigan?  

More on Hudson later and over at FourthAmendment.com, everyday so far. I'm just getting started.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Sure it does...to you (1.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Patrick on Sat Dec 02, 2006 at 05:00:23 PM EST
    It still smells, strongly, like the cops are lying.

    Why because the PIO or the press who reported the statement can't get it right?  Humans can't make mistakes?  

    If I had a nickel for everytime I was misquoted in the paper I'd be a rich man (well not really rich)

    And that's all you got.  A couple contradictions and you've made up your mind.  I'd suggest a more cautious approach.  There's an investigation underway, smart money says to wait.  

    As for the warrant being public information....They aren't if there's a criminal investigation in progress.


    Well that hasn't stopped you in the past, in fact you've tried and convicted these officers based on newspaper accounts and hearsay.  You're much better than a lawyer, you're a judge and jury.   Thankfully the real system is run by much cooler heads.  

    still (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jen M on Sat Dec 02, 2006 at 05:43:40 PM EST
    with many states loosening up self defense laws and many police departments doing these no knock entries. If any percentage of these warrants are based on faulty information or the police enter the wrong address incidents like this are only going to increase.

    "a couple contradictions" (none / 0) (#4)
    by roy on Sun Dec 03, 2006 at 09:49:36 AM EST
    Plus, the cops say a CI bought drugs there, but the CI says he was involved only after the fact when he was asked to lie.

    Plus, the cops say cocaine was purchased, but the press says only marijuana was discovered during the search.


    The warrant seems to say ... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 02, 2006 at 04:26:29 PM EST
    ... that the cop saw his 'confidential and reliable informant' make the deal with 'Sam.'

    The approval for the no-knock was based on 'having several cameras in the home.' If they were outside of the home they would have been visible, if they were in the home they wouldn't do any good.

    It still smells, strongly, like the cops are lying. They murdered this woman defending her home, didn't call paramedics for her ('she was determined dead at the scene' ... by who?), and they initially said they made the buy, they knocked.

    And only now is the warrant released, why the delay about a public document?

    So far all the cops have been given a vacation (that's what I call time off with pay), and like most cases I doubt if any justice will ever happen.

    INAL but If they lied to obtain the warrant, isn't that a felony? If they killed her based on a felony, isn't that felony murder?

    I bet they don't even get fired.

    Patrick misses a couple of things (none / 0) (#5)
    by Sailor on Sun Dec 03, 2006 at 10:40:32 AM EST
    wheelchair ramp ... no cameras ... no drugs ... no 'Sam.'

    I don't think proper procedure was... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Bill Arnett on Sun Dec 03, 2006 at 11:26:14 AM EST
    ...followed here, as the description of the property given by two allegedly experienced narcotics officers did not describe "with great particularity" the house they wished to search, as they made no mention that all the windows were barred, and that could have affected whether the judge would have given them a no-knock warrant.

    You can't easily "bail out" through barred windows and that should have been in the affidavit for a warrant. A "good" description of a house for purposes of obtaining a warrant would not only have pointed out the ramp, the green shutters, THE BARS ON THE WINDOWS, but also whether there were rose bushes out front, by which windows or doors, whether there were petunias in planter boxes in the window, and ANY/ALL identifying factors of the house spelled out "with great particularity"; the omission of the bars in the windows was a "CYA" lie by omission by the officers to enhance the chances of getting a no-knock warrant.

    Fairy tales released for public consumption, this thing reeked from the very beginning.