By David Pendered
Kathryn Johnston is to be memorialized by a park named in her honor. The future park is located a few blocks from the home where Atlanta police officers shot and killed the 92-year-old matron in her living room after bursting into her home in 2006.
The Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park is to be located at 870 Proctor Street. The city owns the land that now is open greenspace in the English Avenue neighborhood, a few blocks west of the Mercedes Benz Stadium. The tract goes by the unofficial name of Boone West Park.
The park potentially could be developed with trails, playgrounds for children and seniors, picnic areas, parking, urban farming and gazebos, according to legislation submitted by Atlanta City Councilmember Ivory Lee Young, Jr.
Donations to develop the park will be accepted by the city and managed in a special fund that’s to be created in the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, according to the legislation.
The council’s Community Development and Human Services Committee is slated to consider the ordinance at its meeting Wednesday. If approved, the ordinance could be considered by the full council at its Aug. 6 meeting.
Language used in the ordinance illustrates how raw emotions remain over Johnston’s shooting death on Nov. 21, 2006 at her home at 933 Neal St.
Johnston was alone at home when officers broke into her home around 7 p.m., armed with a search warrant that authorized them to enter and search the house without knocking on the door to gain entry. Johnston feared for her life in the high-crime neighborhood and raised and fired a pistol she had in her lap. Officers returned fire, striking her with several bullets, handcuffed her as she lay bleeding and dying, and planted marijuana in the house. Authorities later determined the “no knock” warrant had been obtained with false information that drugs were being dealt from Johnston’s house.
The ordinance twice refers to Johnston as being murdered. However, no murder conviction was returned in her death.
Two Atlanta police officers were charged with felony murder and other charges. They pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and other charges in Fulton County Superior Court.
In addition, the two officers and a third officer pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Atlanta to a charge of conspiracy to violate civil rights resulting in the death of Johnston, according to a statement from the U.S. District Attorney.
The pending legislation also observes:
- “WHEREAS, there are citizens across the city who desire to never allow this tragedy to be repeated or be forgotten, and
- “WHEREAS, the legacy of this tragedy resulted in a significant response by the city, including the repeal of the Disorderly Contact 6 or ” Dc-6″, a law that allowed for the arrest of any citizen without “Probable Cause”, establishing of the Atlanta Citizens Review Board (ACRB), establishing a new narcotics unit in the Atlanta Police Department, and establishing new protocols for the issuance of warrants to the Atlanta Police Department, especially “No Knock Warrants; and
- “WHEREAS, the City would like to insure tragedies like these never happen again and believe that this honorable resident’s sacrifice, once memorialized, will serve as a constant reminder of the ongoing efforts to insure we not only remember, but continue to educate to prevent future tragedies.”