92-Year-Old Woman Latest Drug War Casualty

11/22/2006 03:56 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old woman from Atlanta, is the latest casualty of the war on drugs.

Ms. Johnston was shot dead in her home by plainclothes police officers attempting to serve a warrant. Confused and panicked by plainclothes narcotics officers forcing their way into the home where she had lived for 17 years, Ms. Johnston fired at the police, non-fatally shooting three officers. The cops returned fire, killing the elderly woman.

Assistant Police Chief Alan Dreher said the officers were justified in shooting the woman because she fired at the men who were forcing themselves into her house. Neighbors and relatives said it was a case of mistaken identity. Sarah Dozier, identified as the niece of the woman, told WAGA-TV that there were never any drugs at the house. "My aunt was in good health. I'm sure she panicked when they kicked that door down," Dozier said. "There was no reason they had to go in there and shoot her down like a dog." It is still unconfirmed whether any drugs were found at the residence.

This summer the Cato Institute released a disturbing report entitled Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America. The report found that, "These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongfully targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they're sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary unites dressed not as police officers, but as solders. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of who were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects."

When will law enforcement put an end to brutal police tactics that result in wrongful deaths and the perversion of justice? Join the Drug Policy Alliance and help us find an exit strategy for this violent and unwinnable war.