ATLANTA – Johnny Lorenzo Bolton was lying on a couch in his apartment near Atlanta with his eyes closed when the police who issued a narcotics search warrant stormed through the front door with guns drawn and without warning.

Bolton stood up, and at least one of the officers fired and sent two bullets into Bolton’s chest. The 49-year-old black died from his injuries.

Details of the pre-dawn December encounter – most of which came from an attorney representing Bolton’s family – resemble a nationally known case: the murder of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky nine months earlier. The 26-year-old black woman also died after being shot by officers who issued a drug search warrant in her home.

But unlike Taylor, Bolton’s name isn’t painted in large letters on protest signs or mentioned in the ongoing nationwide discussions of racial injustice and police brutality that began after Taylor’s deaths 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 bringing them to the attention of his murder, they said. Frustrated with these efforts, attorneys sent a draft lawsuit to Cobb County officials in mid-April, along with a letter threatening legal action if county officials failed to provide further information and seek accountability and compensation for Bolton’s death.

“We gave them rest for almost six months,” Bolton’s sister Daphne Bolton said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “That lets me know that’s not what an answer is getting.”

Now Bolton says, “I want my brother’s name to ring next to Breonna Taylor’s. If you say Breonna Taylor I want you to say Breonna Taylor and Johnny Lorenzo Bolton. I want them to be at the same time. “

The details of Taylor’s murder were set out in detail: the police arrived after midnight and knocked the door open with a battering ram. Taylor’s friend Kenneth Walker said he grabbed his gun and he and Taylor got out of bed and headed for the door. According to the police, they knocked and identified. Walker said he did not hear the police say and feared the officers were intruders. He fired once and hit an officer in the leg. Three officers returned fire and fired a total of 32 bullets, five of which hit Taylor.

Far fewer details about Bolton’s death have been released.

In a bare press release issued on the day of his death, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), which is investigating police shootings at the request of local authorities, said officials had a narcotics search warrant in an apartment at around 4:40 a.m. executed in Smyrna on December 17th.

“Upon entering the apartment, a SWAT team member fired his gun and a resident of the apartment was hit,” the message said.

It was a SWAT team from the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office. The authority has announced that it will cooperate in the investigation.

The GBI said it turned its investigation file over to the Cobb County Attorney’s Office on March 16.

Prosecutors have announced that they are still investigating and, as with all police shootings, plans to bring the case to a grand jury.

In a letter to the family’s attorneys, an attorney representing Cobb County said officials were reviewing claims made by the family’s attorneys, but they “believe there are several material inaccuracies” in the draft complaint and cover letter. County officials have denied AP requests for documents about the shooting, citing an exception to the state law for open records of material related to an ongoing investigation.

The two-bedroom apartment Bolton lived in served as an unofficial boarding house, according to Zack Greenamyre, one of the family’s lawyers. A woman and her teenage daughter lived in one bedroom, another woman rented the other bedroom, and Bolton slept on a couch in the living room, Greenamyre said.

As part of an investigation into a suspected drug dealer, the police served two arrest warrants around the same time: one in a townhouse where the suspected dealer lived and the second in the apartment where Bolton lived, which police say was paid for by the suspected dealer. The officer, who made affidavits for both arrest warrants, said they were based on information obtained from a confidential law enforcement and surveillance source. The official said the confidential informant bought cocaine from the apartment in September and that drug sales continued there in December.

The officer requested an arrest warrant that would allow the police to enter without reporting themselves. He cited criminal records of people known to be linked to the alleged dealer in the apartment and previous reports of guns seen there.

Greenamyre says the warrant for the apartment was based on inaccurate and outdated information and that the apartment was a residential building with no drug sales. Bolton’s name does not appear on either of the two arrest warrants.

Greenamyre said witnesses told him Bolton was lying on a couch with his eyes closed, possibly asleep when officers crashed through the door. He got up in response to the noise and was shot dead by police, the witnesses said. They also said that when Bolton was dying, the officers did not immediately provide first aid, but instead handcuffed him.

“The limited information that is now available to the family does not make this look like a legitimate shootout,” said the letter accompanying the draft lawsuit.

About two weeks after the shooting, police received additional arrest warrants for the alleged dealer, who had already been arrested in the raid on the townhouse, and his brother, stating that the two had access to a locked cabinet in the apartment, which was located in the apartment a backpack containing drugs was found.

Police also received arrest warrants for two women and a man who were in the apartment when the police entered with Bolton. Arrest warrants accuse all three of possession of a gun despite previous convictions after one gun was found in the kitchen and another in a bedroom. The man also had a backpack with cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines, according to an arrest warrant.

Daphne Bolton, who says her brother is a talented singer with a big heart, wants to know why he was shot and wants the officers involved to be fired and charged. She also wants an end to “no-knock” warranties.

Bolton said she was at work at a Charlotte, North Carolina bank on December 17 when she received a Facebook message from her brother’s daughter stating that he had been shot. The hours that followed are blurry, but she remembers pacing up and down her house calling hospitals near Atlanta to try to find him before finally finding out he had died.

Your anger and sadness are still raw.

The two siblings were born about a year apart and grew up in a narrow-minded Mississippi family with an older sister who died five years ago of complications from multiple sclerosis. As teenagers, they moved to South Carolina with their mother after their parents divorced.

Johnny Bolton never really liked school, but he was fun and popular and attracted a lot when he sang in public. He began experimenting with drugs in his late teens, possibly to deal with their parents’ divorce, his sister said. As a young man, he moved to the Atlanta area.

Daphne Bolton saw her brother a few times a year but spoke to him more often. She remembers one of her birthdays when her brother surprised her and the family went bowling. Since his death, she has regretted not going to a family gathering where he was supposed to sing last summer.

Johnny Bolton loved women and always had girlfriends, some of whom turned to his sister for advice. He worked in a car wash and was popular with customers and employees, said Daphne Bolton.

Johnny Bolton has come into conflict with the law over the years, primarily over drug and misdemeanors, and spent some time incarcerated. He often called his sister to ask for money and she sent it. Although she disagreed with some of her brother’s decisions, she found it safer if he got money from her.

“He used to tell me, he said, ‘Baby Sis, I’m better.’ I said, ‘I know it’s you,’ ”Daphne Bolton said through tears. “I never gave up hope that he would be better. Now I will unfortunately never get to see this day. “