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Atlanta officer involved in shootout to plea

The Associated Press
Read P-1 News Report 11/22/06

ATLANTA, Ga. — A former Atlanta police officer involved in the fatal shooting of an elderly woman during a botched drug raid has reached a tentative deal with prosecutors, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Officer Gregg Junnier, who could have faced murder charges in the Nov. 21 shooting of Kathryn Johnston, reached the deal on Tuesday, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

Junnier's attorney, Rand Csehy, said he would have no comment until prosecutors issue an official statement in the case. A spokeswoman for District Attorney Paul Howard said he had no comment on the report.

Fulton County prosecutors in February said they intend to seek murder charges against Junnier, J.R. Smith and Arthur Tesler, who they said were involved in the shooting death of the 92-year-old woman.

The attorney for Tesler, William McKenney, said his client would not be involved in a plea deal. "He's not guilty. The proposed indictment is not only a stretch, but it's a massive leap of charges," he said. "Arthur Tesler is not guilty."

Johnston died and three officers were wounded in the Nov. 21 shootout when police used a no-knock warrant to search for drugs in Johnston's northwest Atlanta home.

When officers raided her home without first announcing their presence, police say Johnston fired a handgun and officers returned fire. An autopsy report revealed Johnston was shot five or six times in the chest, arms, legs and feet.

Narcotics officers said an informant had claimed there was cocaine in the home, but none was found. As questions swirled about whether the officers followed the proper procedure, Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington asked the FBI to lead a multi-agency probe into the shootout.

To obtain the warrant, officers told a magistrate judge that an undercover informant had told them that Johnston's home had surveillance cameras monitored carefully by a drug dealer named "Sam."

Days after the shooting, a man claiming to be the informant told a television station that he never purchased drugs at his home, prompting Pennington to admit he was uncertain whether the suspected drug dealer actually existed.

Last month, Pennington announced a wave of policy changes that require the department to drug-test its nearly 1,800 officers and mandate that top supervisors must sign off on narcotics operations and no-knock warrants.


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