After Kathryn Johnston's Murder, by Mary Neal
NEAL STREET became known as the scene of the worst consequence of no-knock warrants on November 21, 2006. That was the day Atlanta police invaded the home of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston and gunned her down in pre-dawn hours. Three of the officers involved in her home invasion were charged and sentenced for her death. During trial, more details surfaced about the police cover-up that followed Ms. Johnston‘s murder. But the news accounts I read about the officers’ trial made no mention of a certain matter of interest: What happened in the family’s lawsuit filed after Ms. Johnston’s tragic death?
Although punishment varied for the officers involved in Ms. Johnston’s slaying, The Atlanta Journal reported, ”Prosecutors say the three ex-cops should be equally responsible for one thing: They must pay Johnston’s estate $8,180 — the cost of burying her.” Generous.
Immediately after Kathryn Johnston's murder, her survivors signed contract to be represented by The Cochran Firm in a civil suit. http://www.cochranfirm.com/news/Johnston_niece.html
This writer was concerned about Ms. Johnston’s family, having been issued a court order that there is no Cochran Firm office in Georgia. The order, issued by Georgia Superior Court, shielded that law firm from a civil suit by our family after The Cochran Firm defrauded our family as our wrongful death attorneys regarding the secret arrest and wrongful death of Larry Neal, a handicapped African American, in Memphis/Shelby County Jail. The order was issued only six months before Ms. Johnston's death. (See the court order declaring The Cochran Firm Atlanta office non-existent under that identity at the DOCUMENTS tab of this website: http://wrongfuldeathoflarryneal.com )
What is going on around here between the police, the courts, and The Cochran Firm, representing mostly minority clients?
The Cochran Firm signed contract with our family immediately after Shelby County Jail in Memphis, Tennessee confessed that Larry was dead in police custody. This news came after 18 days of the police denying that Larry was in custody while his social worker and family searched for him to administer his vital psychiatric and heart drugs. To date, no records regarding Larry's death have been released to his survivors, and requests for an investigation have been denied. The Neals were therefore very concerned that The Cochran Firm was going to do to Kathryn Johnston's family what it did to us after Larry's wrongful death in police custody - pretend to act as their attorneys while actually working for police.
Whether Kathryn Johnston's relatives did or will receive more than reimbursement on her burial expenses is unknown to this writer. Her survivors contracted with the right lawyers to get zero in a civil lawsuit against police, especially because Ms. Johnston was an African American. In our experience, The Cochran Firm works for police against its clients.
My family felt responsible to warn Ms. Johnston's survivors. We could not understand how the The Cochran Firm could return to represent Ms. Johnston's family in the same court where it had itself declared non-existent under that identity just six months before contracting with Ms. Johnston’s relatives. We also could not understand why the law office could advertise itself as being one thing while denying that very same thing in court. To this day, mainstream news will not alert the public about any of this. We were so baffled by these developments that we wondered if that law firm was actually a government agency with the mission of diffusing tensions after police misconduct caused the wrongful deaths of African Americans.
Can Law Firms Be Government Agencies? The Cochran Firm Fraud w/ Videos
My family made a trip to Neal Street after our attempt to alert officials and news reporters at a town hall meeting after Ms. Johnson’s death that her family had apparently contracted with a “non-existent” law firm was ignored. In fact, the morning after attending a NAACP town hall meeting and passing out flyers to warn Ms. Johnston’s family and other African Americans that the commercials they were subjected to advertising the Atlanta office of The Cochran Firm had been declared false by Georgia Superior Court, I exited my home and found all my car doors open and both my hood and truck up, but nothing was stolen. This was the beginning of many stalking events that continue to this day.
My mother and I now live like Ann Frank in Nazi Germany or runaway slaves in the Underground Railroad. We try not leave home except for emergencies, having been followed and waylaid several times. Emergency police did not respond during the hour this writer was waylaid at the neighborhood Chevron, and police and will not follow up on these crimes. The Cochran Firm published a YouTube video last month advertising its Atlanta office to the whole wide world, which it never stopped doing, actually, even while filing pleadings in court denying that law office was a Cochran Firm office. The video commercial is at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlcolpUzckU.
Seeing that video commercial on YouTube was particularly disturbing to my family, as we were allowed to sue The Cochran Firm in United States District Court on a diversity basis, based on the supposition that there is no Cochran Firm office in Georgia. What is going on around here between the police, the courts, and The Cochran Firm, representing mostly minority clients?
Larry Neal’s family is naturally curious about any cases "now you see us, now you don't" Cochran Firm Atlanta office undertakes and concerned about the clients. Therefore, this writer had hoped to learn more about Ms. Johnston's home invasion than the news carried during the recent trials for former police officers. Police initially sought to cover up their wrongdoing in Ms. Johnston's death by having an informant testify falsely that he had bought drugs from Ms. Johnston's house. If she died as a result of police having received a bad drug tip as alleged, why was it necessary to fabricate a story with an informant who had no knowledge of the events rather than police using the real tipster?
If Ms. Johnston’s home invasion was indeed a “botched drug raid,” why was there no real informant to present at the police officers’ trial? On what basis did the officers believe there was any reason to break into Ms. Johnston’s home? What qualifies her home invasion to be called a “drug raid,” botched or otherwise? Why were police really there? Perhaps I missed reading the explanation as to why this home invasion and murder is called a "botched drug raid" and not plain burglary. It appears that the worse position the police are in after the deaths of African Americans, the more likely the survivors are to be represented by The Cochran Firm.
Another mysterious case with The Cochran Firm represented the family is at the links below:
Billey Joe Johnson Death Gains Conspiratorial Steam as Family Hires Cochran Law Firm
Billey Joe Johnson's Death Ruled 'Accidental' by Grand Jury
Below is a news account regarding the Kathryn Johnston home invasion.
DOCUMENTS REVEAL DETAILS IN JOHNSTON SLAYING, COVER-UP
Three former Atlanta police officers charged in botched raid
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Jason Smith was losing it. “I [screwed] up; I think I killed this woman,” the Atlanta narcotics cop told partner Arthur Tesler in the yard behind a small brick bungalow on Neal Street. “You guys got to help me.”
Inside, a 92-year-old woman lay dead, killed by a fusillade of police bullets. Officer Gregg Junnier, his face grazed by a bullet and bleeding, stalked through the home looking for suspects and contraband.
Kathryn Johnston, 92, died in a drug raid based on a warrant obtained under false pretenses. (See the link above for the full article and more photographs.)
Neal Street lies west of downtown Atlanta in an African American neighborhood. Ms. Johnston lived alone in a brick house on the corner. I met most of Ms. Johnston’s former neighbors on my trip to Neal Street in 2007. They were still very distressed over what happened to her. The same is true of many people around the world who never met Ms. Johnston, but were saddened by her tragic death. I suppose the worst detail I read about Ms. Johnston’s home invasion was that she was handcuffed as she lay dying after being shot in a hail of 39 bullets. More about Ms. Johnston is at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathryn_Johnston
I thought as I walked from door to door on Neal Street how terrible it is that police tried to cover up their actions by misrepresenting Ms. Johnston as a drug dealer to the world after killing her. The ruse would have worked if the police informant had not had more integrity than the law officers.
I also considered the things my family has in common with Ms. Johnston's survivors. Old age always brings with it some disabilities, and cognitive skills are sometimes affected. Ms. Johnston was 92, so she likely had some age-related disabilities, just as Larry was disabled. Despite Ms. Johnston's advanced years, she managed to squeeze off one shot at police who she probably thought were common robbers. I still think they were only robbers, in the absence of any explanation why police believed drugs were in the elderly woman's home. Added to my brother's and Ms. Johnston's vulnerabilities (her age and Larry's mental illness and bad heart) is the fact that Ms. Johnston's street was named my family name, Neal. Like Larry’s, Ms. Johnston's wrongful death was shrouded in a cover-up. My brother’s death still is. What’s more, it looks like the powers that be, including the USDOJ, police, courts, and The Cochran Firm intend for Larry’s death to stay a mystery forever. See evidence of the secrecy at these links:
USDOJ Has Blood on Its Hands
Whatever they did to poor Larry, it must have been pretty awful. Look at this link:
Cochran Firm: Judge, Don't Make the Jail Tell About Larry Neal!
As I walked along Ms. Johnston’s quiet street and spoke with her neighbors, I thought about how little The Cochran Firm cares about old black women. My mother was 80 when I took her to The Cochran Firm’s Memphis office to sign contract on August 8, 2003, the day following Larry’s burial. The law firm actually gave her tissues to dry her tears while presenting her with a contract for legal services that the law firm never intended to honor. See where her tears smudged the contract for legal services at the first paragraph: http://wrongfuldeathoflarryneal.com/docs/Ex03_CochranFirmContract.pdf
The Cochran Firm did not care about old black women when the Atlanta office pretended not to exist to keep from paying damages for its fraud against her. My mother was 84 when The Cochran Firm managed to convince Judge Shoob, whose judge's chambers were within sight of The Cochran Firm, to issue an order that the law office it did not exist under the identity it uses to trick African Americans. Count how many times that law office denied the identity it holds itself out to the world as being on this pleading: http://wrongfuldeathoflarryneal.com/docs/Ex05_CCGSSRogResponses.pdf
The Cochran Firm did not care about old black women in 2008 when The Cochran Firm also denied having a Memphis law office with that identity to defend itself against the Neal’s lawsuit in federal court. (COURT DOCKET - http://dockets.justia.com/docket/court-gandce/case_no-1:2007cv01935/case_id-145173/ )
My 85-year-old mother looked at me with tears in her eyes when we got the pleading from The Cochran Firm disclaiming a Memphis office, and she said, “But that is where we went. That is where I signed contract – The Cochran Firm’s Memphis Office. Why would they lie?”
I replied, "Because they appear to work for the police to contain damages following the deaths of black people and may be protected by the courts. They are allowed to go on with such advertising likely to trick more people of color. Now, The Cochran Firm opened an office in Atlanta to work on the Latinos."
I spoke at length to Ms. Johnston’s former neighbors who were home during my visit to Neal Street and left flyers for those who were not. Mostly, we talked on their porches, but one lady insisted on my coming inside. She said her son is mentally ill like my brother Larry was, and she wanted to learn more about my family’s ordeal. We sat in her living room and talked about what it is like to have a loved one with acute mental problems and the fact that her son, like Larry, had endured incarcerations because of his mental instability.
During my conversation with that mother and another Neal Street resident who said he had an Autistic niece, I recognized that there were many other families in the same position that my family had been with Larry, having loved ones who are criminalized or subject to facing jail some day rather than being hospitalized or treated as outpatients for psychiatric care.
After my Neal Street visit, I started speaking about Larry to my co-workers, and several of them also admitted having immediate family members who were schizophrenic, bipolar, or Autistic. At first, co-workers only spoke about their relatives' mental health problems when we were alone. But within a few weeks, they lost their reserve caused by the stigma associated to mental illness and began to freely discuss the barriers to treatment for their loved ones and the painful consequences. We then started Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill, an online organization with members from across America and in other countries who advocate for psychiatric treatment for mental patients rather than incarceration. As the stigma attached to mental dysfunctions dissipates, more relatives will begin to speak up for decriminalizing mental illness and demand better treatment options than those that led to incarcerating 1.25 million people with mental dysfunctions in America. http://www.care2.com/c2c/group/AIMI
Every time I read about Ms. Johnston's death, I am outraged anew that these events occurred. I also wonder to myself how in the world a tragedy involving police wrongdoing that ended in the death of a black person got mainstream news coverage. The noise from so much gunfire probably made it impossible to contain the story. Similarly, there were many B.A.R.T. commuters filming Oscar Grant's murder at the train station on January 1, 2009. Therefore, that tragedy had to be reported honestly after police made a failed attempt to give an implausible explanation for his shooting. Contrarily, my brother Larry Neal, a mentally ill heart patient, died under secret incarceration in the bowels of a county jail. Deaths and abuses in America's prisons and jails are out of the public eye. Larry's secret arrest apparently made his death easier to sweep under the rug - that and the fact that his family contracted with The Cochran Firm.
Ms. Johnston’s death, like Oscar Grant’s, was ineligible to be hidden. Unlike the wrongful death of Larry Neal, the police cover-up regarding Ms. Johnston did not work, but what is happening with her family’s lawsuit? If justice has not already come in that civil action, this article might help Ms. Johnston’s survivors. Ms. Johnston’s survivors are apparently relying on attorneys to represent them in a court where the law firm has a curious connection - having been declared "non-existent" by that court. Ms. Johnston’s family and mine need prayer.
I drove away from Neal Street that afternoon satisfied that I had done my best for Ms. Johnston’s survivors and thankful that Ms. Johnston had lived surrounded by neighbors who respected her, and they cared deeply about the circumstances of her passing.
Through my articles, I have also done my best to warn you – no matter what your race is. There is something new happening to citizens’ rights in America. They just don’t seem to hold up in court.
THREE FORMER OFFICERS IN KATHRYN JOHNSTON SHOOTING SENTENCED
Atlanta Police Look to Restore Trust After Drug Raid Killing; State senator asks department to release FBI report into fatal, botched raid
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Monday, February 23, 2009
The federal sentencing of three ex-Atlanta police officers for the illegal drug raid that left a 92-year-old woman dead closes only one chapter in the tragic case, the Atlanta Police Department said Wednesday.
“Restoring trust and confidence as well as healing the communities we serve are paramount in our efforts to rebuild a positive relationship with citizens of Atlanta,” the department said in a statement.
Although there are officers who abuse power to the point of terrorizing and killing citizens, I do not believe they are representative of all law enforcement personnel. The role of law enforcement is so vital to the cohesion of society that special care must be given to compensate officers well to reduce their stress levels, screen out bigots during the hiring process, and investigate allegations against officers promptly and censure appropriately to build confidence among the citizenry. These measures might promote a less volatile relationship between police and the public and eventually lead to increased mutual respect. The rule of law unequally applied leads to disorder and promotes degeneration of our social structure.
Of course, the entire concept of police brutality not being acceptable and courts rendering equal justice are only relevant in democratic societies. Perhaps America is shedding itself of such percepts. The idea of liberty and justice for all may just be outdated and Larry’s family did not understand that in time to save the expense and trouble trying to hold The Cochran Firm responsible for its fraud after the secret arrest and wrongful death of Larry Neal in that Memphis/Shelby County Jail. Maybe such acts against private U.S. citizens are now acceptable and will soon be commonplace. Revocation of citizens' rights always begins with the disenfranchised, the weakest. But it never ends there. See the article and comments at this link:
American Concentration Camps Proposed in Congress - H.R. 645
Mine is the only American family to have a member secretly arrested and returned as a corpse with no explanation, excuse, arrest records, denied any investigation, and we suffer persecution for even asking why. If accounts of concentration camps and mass graves are true, more American families might someday suffer a similar fate. If your mother, brother, sister, or friend someday dies in secret government custody, remember the Neal family. There may be no need to consult with a law firm, as the firm may actually be working with authorities against your interests. Who do people trust with more personal data than their banks and attorneys? Who could be a better colleague to work against citizens?
I do not know what is happening in America, but equal justice certainly is not what this is called. I have written about this extensively - the secret arrest and wrongful death of Larry Neal and his family's endangerment for daring to ask about him. I have been interviewed on radio and television. We have written to the USDOJ, various human rights organizations, numerous U.S. senators, the FBI and a federal agency that investigates online stalking, and made several police reports about Larry's secret arrest and wrongful death and my in-person stalking (all documented with affidavits from businesses that witnessed the events).
This news is censored in mainstream media, the USDOJ did not respond, the stalking and censroship continue, and no police have investigated. How American is that?
Please feel free to share your comments in the section below on this page. What do you think about these events? Is this the Matrix? Should the children in Larry's family still say the Pledge of Alligence every moring, ending in "liberty and justice for all"? Has the government determined that minority citizens are not entitled to truth in advertising? Is that why The Cochran Firm is allowed to say one thing on commercials and present itself as another in courts? Do African Americans have protected civil rights any longer? Are all Americans to soon lose their Constitutional protections like my family obviously has? Are private firms being used to collect and pass on information about Americans? Is democracy about over - or is it only over for Americans on a one-by-one basis, like the situation began in Nazi Germany?
The link below has a summary:
Neals Request Meeting with the USDOJ
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them. ~ Frederick Douglas
Your input is invited and appreciated. More articles by this writer at the Articles link below.
Radio Interview: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/stations/HeadingLeft/wakeupcallshow/2008/01/22/TBA
Author's page: http://www.care2.com/c2c/people/profile.html?pid=513396753
Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill: http://www.care2.com/c2c/group/AIMI
AIMI Photo Album: http://www.care2.com/c2c/photos/view/217/513396753/AIMI_Photo_Album/
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 7222, Atlanta, GA 30357
Message phone: 770.651.8413(electronic contact methods, including phone, are
monitored and censored. I may not actually get
your emails or phone calls)