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Policing the State

Policing the State: Democratic Reflections on Police Power Gone Awry, in Memory of Kathryn Johnston (1914–2006)
By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr.

On November 21, 2006, an Atlanta Narcotics Team served a "no knock" search warrant at 933 Neal Street. After thirty-nine shots were fired by police officers, the ninety-two-year-old owner of the home, Ms. Kathryn Johnston, lay dying; three police officers were also injured by ricochets from their own weapons. A subsequent FBI investigation revealed that the original application for the search warrant had been made with false information, then covered up. Drugs were planted at Ms. Johnston's home, and police informants were instructed to lie about having witnessed both dealers and drugs at the home. Two of the three police officers most directly implicated in this case pled guilty to various charges including manslaughter, while the third, Arthur Tesler, pled not guilty to lesser charges and stood trial in Atlanta in May 2008. This book offers an eyewitness account of what happened at that trial, as well as an analysis of what the case suggests about the need and the prospects for democratic reform today.


"The crevasse between scholarly thought and human suffering often seems unconscionably vast, as very few thinkers directly apply their elite knowledge to current problems. Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr. speaks powerfully against this quiet, applying his extraordinary ethical sensibility and interpretive discernment to expose the underpinnings of a tragically commonplace crime."
—Kathryn Lofton, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies, Yale University

"In this moving, haunting, probing book, Ruprecht tells the story of a trial in which he participated as a juror in 2008. The story is in some sense a tragedy, a form of art and experience that happens to be at the center of the author's academic concerns. This book has the human interest of any such story . . . but it is also asking, between the lines, what tragedy is and what it would be to maintain hope, rather than resigning oneself to fate, in the midst of tragedies."
—Jeffrey Stout, Professor of Religion, Princeton University