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Motion Requests Sanctions against Atlanta Police Department in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Sara Dozier, the niece of a 92-year-old woman who was killed in an Atlanta police raid three years ago, has filed a motion asking a federal judge to sanction the city of Atlanta for withholding documents in a wrongful death lawsuit, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Such evasion and misconduct makes a mockery of the truth-finding process that is at the heart of the judicial system and must be severely punished,” the motion stated.

Sergeant Lisa Keyes, Atlanta Police Department spokeswoman, deferred comment to the city’s legal department. Acting city attorney Roger Bhadari said that the city has no comment, except that the city is reviewing the motion and “will respond accordingly.”

Dozier filed suit against the city of Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Department in 2007 over the killing of her aunt, Kathryn Johnston. In 2006, Johnston was killed in an Atlanta police raid. The police had obtained an illegal, no-knock search warrant that allowed them to batter down the door of the 92-year-old Johnston. Johnston, who thought her home was being invaded, fired a warning shot, and she was killed by narcotics offers. The officers unloaded their weapons. Three former police officers are currently serving jail time for the roles in the incident.

The lawsuit states that an Atlanta Police Department quota system was the “driving force” behind the killing. Narcotics offers lied on the search warrant because they needed to meet their arrest and warrant quotas, according to the suit.

Johnston’s family’s attorneys had previously asked the Atlanta Police Department to turn over any documents regarding the quota system during discovery. The department denied the existence of any such documents. In pretrial testimony, Chief Richard Pennington denied the existence of a quota system.

Dozier’s attorneys, however, obtained documents which showed the existence of a quota system from Sergeant Scott Kreher, head of the Atlanta police union, according to the motion. Kreher said he received the documents from anonymous sources. The motion also stated that Atlanta Police officers verified the authenticity of the documents during pretrial testimony.

In the motion, Dozier requests that Senior U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Shoob enter a default judgment. A default judgment would mean that no trial would be necessary to determine whether or not the Atlanta Police Department was liable for Johnston’s death. In the case of a default judgment, only damages would need to be determined.

Bill Mitchell, attorney for Dozier, said, “I’ve never seen a situation like this, where there were quotas that were explicitly set out and implemented through the department. It’s shocking.”

This case is interesting because the plaintiff faces a large city government rather than an individual or business. Whether caused by careless driver, medical professional, or government employee, a wrongful death changes the lives of relatives forever. At MLN Law, we offer aggressive, caring representation for family members in wrongful death cases. We work hard to uncover all of the facts so that everyone involved will realize the full extent of the consequences of the defendant’s actions. If your family member has been wrongfully killed, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.