Ex-officers sentenced in shooting death

ATLANTA --- A federal judge sentenced three former Atlanta police officers to prison Tuesday for their part in a botched drug raid that ended with the death of an elderly woman in gunfire.


Jason R. Smith, Gregg Junnier and Arthur Tesler received sentences ranging from five years to 10. Kathryn Johnston, 92, was killed by police gunfire during the 2006 raid at her home.

After receiving an incorrect tip from a known drug dealer, police used a "no-knock" warrant to enter Ms. Johnston's house to look for drugs. As they tried to break in, Ms. Johnston fired a single shot through the door with a rusty revolver, and the officers fired 39 bullets in return. Prosecutors say officers found no drugs inside the house and tried to cover up the mistake by planting baggies of marijuana.

U.S. District Judge Julie E. Carnes sentenced Mr. Smith to 10 years in federal prison. She sentenced Mr. Junnier to six years and Mr. Tesler to five.

All the men will receive credit for time already served and will get three years supervised release after they serve their sentences. Judge Carnes also ordered them to split the cost of reimbursing Ms. Johnston's estate $8,180 for funeral and burial expenses.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins, spokesman for Ms. Johnston's family, spoke by telephone to her niece and closest living relative, Sarah Dozier, 76, of Atlanta after the sentencing. "She certainly breathed a sigh of relief that there is nearly some resolution, particularly with regard to these officers," he said.

The three men earlier had each pleaded guilty to the federal charge of conspiring to violate Ms. Johnston's civil rights.

Mr. Smith and Mr. Junnier also pleaded guilty to state charges, including manslaughter. They are set to be sentenced on those charges next month. Under their plea agreements, their state sentences will be served concurrently with their federal punishment.