Cobb County family says SWAT team killed their unarmed father

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A family says the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team barged into an apartment and killed their unarmed father. Johnny Bolton was 49.

The deadly shooting happened on Dec. 17 on Springbrook Trail in Smyrna.

In a news release from December, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said a SWAT team member “discharged his firearm and an occupant of the apartment was struck.”

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The GBI said the SWAT team executed a no-knock warrant on the home.

Marietta Cobb Smyrna Organized Crime Task Force agents and the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team are involved in the case, the GBI said.

Two arrest warrants obtained by Channel 2 Cobb County bureau chief Chris Jose show authorities were searching for a man wanted for a long list of drug charges. Records show he had an AK-47.

Bolton is not named in the warrants.

“The sorrow and hurt of the death of my brother, Johnny Lorenzo Bolton, by the hands of the police department is no different than the hurt, sorrow and pain felt by countless families in this world,” said Daphne Bolton. “Cobb County has not cooperated with our family nor shared any information about the death or the events that led up to my brother’s death, Johnny Lorenzo Bolton. Hear his name!”

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Bolton’s sister, children and attorneys held a news conference on Tuesday. They’re demanding a meeting with Sheriff Craig Owens.

Family attorneys said Bolton had been staying at the apartment with other people.

“Why did these officers claim that they shot Johnny while he was sleeping and unarmed? Why was the Cobb MCS trying to execute a search warrant, a nighttime no -knock warrant, on an apartment housing people different than those identified in the warrant?” said Bolton family attorney Zack Greenamyre. “Speak with the family, face -to -face, to tell them what happened. Tell them which one of his people shot and killed Johnny Bolton in his sleep.”

Owens met with Jose exclusively after the news conference.

Owens was not the sheriff at the time of the December incident. The shooting occurred in the final days of Sheriff Neil Warren’s tenure.

Owens defeated beat Warren in the November election. At the time, Warren’s public information officer had not sent details of the deadly shooting to Channel 2 Action News.

“The first thing I’d tell them is, ‘I’m so sorry about their loss. Losing a family member, under these circumstances is tragic,’” said Owens. “I have not been contacted directly by any family member about a meeting, but I would grant an opportunity to meet with the family and grant them what I can tell them about the case.”

“Do you think it’s right for the family to know what happened to their loved one?” asked Jose.

“Absolutely,” said Owens.

Owens showed Jose a series of emails between him and the family attorneys. A letter dated May 7 shows the county attorney’s response. It mentions the family’s “threatened litigation.”

The assistant county attorney said the office, if appropriate, will make the necessary arrangements for a meeting.

“I did not get a briefing on the case when I got into office, so I don’t have a lot to tell them about it. But, at this point, I’m willing to meet with them along with the DA, if he’s willing to meet as well. Anything we can release through the DA’s decision, I’m more than willing and happy to do that,” said Owens. “As I said when I ran for office, I’m going to be transparent as much as I possibly can and I’d like to have that dialogue within reason, as long as we’re not doing anything outside the confines what the county attorneys advise on what we can and cannot do. I’m open to have that conversation.”

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The Cobb County District Attorney’s Office told Jose the case will be presented to a grand jury.