He Was Lying on Couch When Police Burst In, Shot Him Dead

Echoes of Breonna Taylor situation in shooting of Black man in Georgia
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 15, 2021 1:59 AM CDT
He Was Lying on Couch When Police Burst In, Shot Him Dead
Daphne Bolton wipes away tears as she looks at an urn containing the ashes of her brother at her home on Monday, May 31, 2021, in Charlotte, NC.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Johnny Lorenzo Bolton was lying with his eyes closed on a couch in his apartment near Atlanta when police serving a narcotics search warrant burst through the front door with guns drawn and no warning. Bolton stood up and at least one of the officers fired, sending two bullets into Bolton's chest. The 49-year-old Black man died from his injuries. Details of the pre-dawn encounter in December—most of which come from a lawyer representing Bolton’s family—resemble a case that is well known nationwide: the killing nine months earlier of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. The 26-year-old Black woman also died after being shot by officers serving a drug search warrant at her apartment. But unlike Taylor’s, Bolton’s name is not painted in large letters on protest signs or mentioned in the ongoing nationwide discussions on racial injustice and police brutality that began after Taylor’s death in March 2020 and that of George Floyd, who died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020.

Bolton’s relatives and their lawyers wanted to try to get information about the shooting from law enforcement before drawing attention to his killing, they said. 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. “For almost six months, we gave them quiet,” Bolton's sister Daphne Bolton said in a recent interview with the AP. “That lets me know that’s not what gets a response.” Now, Bolton says, “I want my brother’s name to ring beside Breonna Taylor’s. When they say Breonna Taylor, I want them to say Breonna Taylor and Johnny Lorenzo Bolton. I want them to be simultaneous.” She also wants an end to "no-knock" warrants. (More on Bolton's death, and what the next steps are, here.)

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