“Some measure of justice”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an update on the case of Kathryn Johnston, who was murdered by police.

Ex-cop not guilty in fatal shooting:

Tesler, 42, faces up to five years in prison when sentenced Thursday. If he had been convicted on all counts, he could have been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The verdict came shortly after the jury reviewed a transcript of Tesler’s defense testimony. He and his two partners were accused of lying to get the no-knock search warrant for Johnston’s home on the mistaken belief it was the house of a drug dealer.

The Johnston killing shocked metro Atlanta and enraged many in the African-American community, who complained that shoddy or heavy-handed police work in the war on drugs was a source of repeated abuses.

After the verdict, state Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) struggled to contain his anger. He contended Tesler — who was not charged with homicide — was as responsible for Johnston’s death as his two partners, who both pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

“He has much blood on his hands, and he is now in custody where he ought to be,” Fort said. “No matter how much time he spends in jail, he will have to live with himself.”

Tesler’s family declined to comment after the verdict.

Jury foreman Steve Burrows said jurors had worked diligently to reach verdicts on all three counts since Thursday, when they received the case.

“We were a panel of people who worked very hard to come to consensus,” he said.

Tesler was charged with violating his oath of office, lying in an official investigation and falsely imprisoning Johnston, who was shot in her home after she fired a revolver at plainclothes officers as they burst into the house on Nov. 21, 2006.

His two partners, Gregg Junnier and Jason R. Smith, who were charged with murder in the case, pleaded guilty earlier to voluntary manslaughter and to federal civil rights violations. Unlike Smith and Junnier, Tesler was stationed at the rear of the house. Tesler testified that he fired no shots. Junnier and Smith, who entered plea bargains, face up to 10 and 12 years, respectively, on the state charges and on federal civil rights violations.

Tesler testified he did not know that Smith lied to a judge to get a no-knock search warrant for the house on Neal Street. The detectives said they had been told a kilo of cocaine was hidden in the house.

Instead, Smith planted drugs in the house after the officers killed Johnston, according to testimony.

Tesler, a new officer in the narcotics division, testified he participated in the cover-up of the illegal warrant because he feared for his safety from his partners and he feared being labeled a “rat” if he informed on them.

Tesler’s lawyer, William McKenney, acknowledged the jury would have had trouble acquitting his client of charges he lied in an official investigation because Tesler had told the FBI an elaborate cover story in a taped interview.

Unannounced raids by plain-clothes police are nothing but atrocities waiting to happen. Innocent people will die. Maybe innocent cops, maybe innocent residents, but innocents will die. But as anyone who has been following the Johnston case will know, the police involved were far from innocent, and the only one killed was an innocent elderly lady who tried to defend her home against a brutal invasion.

via Last Free Voice

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