The family of a Georgia man killed during a no-knock raid is seeking answers while likening his death to the state-sanctioned death of Breonna Taylor.
On December 17, Johnny Bolton, 49, was killed after he was awoken by members of the Marietta Cobb Smyrna Organized Crime Task Force and the Cobb County Sherriff’s Office SWAT team around 4:40 a.m.as they attempted to stage a narcotics raid.
The apartment Bolton lived in served as an informal boarding house, according to family members and Zack Greenamyre, one of the family’s lawyers. A woman and her teenage daughter occupied one bedroom in the two-bedroom apartment, while another woman slept in the second bedroom. On the morning of the raid after police burst into the apartment, Bolton raised up from the couch he was sleeping on in the living room of the apartment and held up his hands. He was struck twice in the chest and later died from his injuries.
Bolton’s family claims law enforcement officials have been less than forthcoming regarding what led to his untimely death, especially after finding out that Bolton was not among the three people named in the warrant.
“For almost six months, we gave them quiet,” Bolton’s sister Daphne Bolton told The Associated Press. “That lets me know that’s not what gets a response.”
Bolton told the AP that her brother would be remembered for his love of singing and his large personality. Even though he previously served time for drug possession, Bolton remained confident that he was invested in reforming his life.
“I never gave up hope that he would get better. Now I, unfortunately, will never get to see that day,” she said.
According to the officer who submitted to secure the warrant, a confidential informant informed police that heroin, marijuana, and cocaine were being sold from the apartment. The informant also claims they were able to purchase cocaine from a man at the apartment. A second warrant was served at a location where the suspected dealer lived. Police claim the apartment Bolton was living in was being paid for by the suspected dealer.
However, Bolton’s family claims the details collected to obtain the warrant were false and outdated.
Frustrated in those efforts, the attorneys sent a draft of a lawsuit to Cobb County officials in mid-April along with a letter threatening litigation if county officials didn’t provide more information and address accountability and compensation for Bolton’s death.
In March the Georgia Bureau of Investigation turned over the investigation to the Cobb County district attorney’s office. The family took action by submitting a draft of a lawsuit to Cobb County Officials one month after the case was taken up by the DA’s office. Officials responded via letter, acknowledging the family’s concerns but argued there were “several material inaccuracies” in their draft lawsuit. According to the AP, Cobb County officials have declined the outlet’s requests for documentation surrounding the shooting, saying that the ongoing investigation exempts them from doing so.
In May a spokesperson for the DA’s office told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the case would be reviewed by a grand jury.