Family of man killed by authorities serving no-knock warrant wants video released

Roughly six months after a 49-year-old man Black man from Austell was shot dead by police serving a no-knock search warrant, the family of the victim and their attorneys spoke out. 

SWAT team deputies with the Cobb County Sheriff's Office executed the warrant on Dec. 17, 2020, at an apartment on Springbrook Trail in Smyrna. Law enforcement agents were in search of narcotics evidence, officials said. 

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said a SWAT team member shot a person in the apartment, later identified as Johnny Bolton, who was pronounced dead at Wellstar Cobb Hospital. 

Attorneys for the victim's family said Bolton was sleeping on a couch in the apartment and stood up when law enforcement entered at about 4:41 a.m. Attorneys said Bolton was unarmed and autopsy details indicated he was shot two to five times. 

Johnny Bolton (Courtesy of the family)

The family's attorneys said they've reached out to multiple law enforcement agencies and been repeatedly rejected when asked to speak to law enforcement officials. 

Now, the family is publicly calling for transparency from law enforcement. If there's a video of the incident, the family wants it made public. 

"The Bolton family is here to demand answers," attorney Zack Greenamyre said. "Why hasn't Cobb Sheriff Craig Owens released the full video of the incident to show the public what took place?"

Greenamyre said Bolton was an aspiring musician who worked at a nearby car wash. He said Bolton stayed in the apartment with a number of other people. Though Bolton's name was not on the lease, Greenamyre said multiple people involved in the living arrangement would pay someone a sum of money during tough times to avoid sleeping on the street. 

Greenamyre said the GBI concluded its investigation into the officer-involved shooting and has turned over the findings to the Cobb County District Attorney's Office. Law enforcement agencies have not identified the SWAT team member who shot Bolton, nor have they told the family if the person is still on the job. 

About six months later, the family wants answers.

"From what we know, now, Johnny's death appears unnecessary and unjustified," Greenamyre said.

The sister of Johnny Bolton, a 49-year-old man shot and killed during the execution of a no-knock warrant, gives a statement on Tuesday. (Photo: FOX 5 Atlanta)

Bolton's sister and two of his children read statements to reporters on Tuesday. Bolton's family said Cobb County law enforcement has been uncooperative and demanded the Cobb County Sheriff's Office release video of the shooting to the public. His sister demanded the SWAT team member that shot her brother be identified. 

Once the family and legal team know what happened, attorneys say justice should be served. 

"If evidence suggests charges should be brought, then — yes — we want full accountability, criminally and civilly," attorney Bill Atkins said. 

For six months, the family said they have followed the direction of law enforcement and waited for investigation details. Attorney's say law enforcement agencies have been silent and findings via open records are off-limits while an investigation is active. 

"A family should not have to hold a press conference to find out how a government agent killed their loved one, but that apparently is what it takes in this country to get the attention of law enforcement," Atkins said. 

The son of Johnny Bolton, a 49-year-old man who was shot dead during the execution of a no-knock search warrant in Cobb County, stands behind attorneys during a press conference. (Photo: FOX 5 Atlanta) 

The family is also calling for greater scrutiny of no-knock warrants. Greenamyre said the warrant was in search of evidence of narcotics and attorneys said several people were charged after the incident. 

"These are incredibly dangerous, not just for people in the house, but for law enforcement," Greenamyre said.

The news conference was held on the anniversary of the death of George Floyd, a Minnesota man killed in police custody. The conference is more than one year after the police shooting of Breonna Taylor, a Kentucky woman killed while police served a no-knock narcotics warrant at an apartment. 

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