A Texas police officer who shot and killed a black woman through a window of her own home while she was playing video games with her nephew has resigned and may face criminal charges, the Fort Worth interim police chief has said.
Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was killed after a neighbor had called a non-emergency police line for a welfare check because they noticed that her front door was open in the middle of the night. Upon arriving, one of the responding officers shouted commands before opening fire through a window after “perceiving a threat.”
In a statement, police said the officer had seen a person standing inside the residence and fired one shot at the ‘suspect’ before going inside to give the woman emergency medical care. Jefferson died in her bedroom with her eight-year-old nephew in the house.
— Ricardo Lewis (@ParkerRocks425) October 14, 2019
At a press conference on Monday, Police Chief Ed Kraus identified the shooter as 35-year-old officer Aaron Dean, who had joined the department in April 2018. Kraus claimed he planned to fire Dean if he had not resigned by Monday morning.
“Had the officer not resigned I would have fired him for violations of several policies, including our use of force policy, our de-escalation policy, and unprofessional conduct,” Kraus said, adding that Dean has not cooperated with the investigation.
Former FW police officer Aaron Dean resigned this morning before he could be fired, according to FWPD Interim Chief Ed Kraus. He fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson early Sat morning in her home during a welfare check. #FWPD #AaronDean #FOX4 pic.twitter.com/QX2XQQ6t7R
— Macy Jenkins (@MacyJJenkins) October 14, 2019
Body camera footage released by the police department shows the officer approaching the home. He shines a flashlight into what looks like a dark room and shouts “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” – but he does not identify himself as a police officer. Police said they released the footage to provide “transparent and relevant information to the public.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price called the shooting unjustifiable and unacceptable. “There is nothing that can justify what happened on Saturday morning – nothing,” she told journalists.
The neighbor who called the police, James Smith, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he was worried when he saw Jefferson’s door open because he knew she was there with her nephew. Smith told the newspaper that he felt partly responsible for her death. “If I had never dialed the police department, she’d still be alive,” he said.
Kraus told reporters an investigation into the shooting is ongoing and an update will be released on Tuesday. He added that the FBI had also been briefed and will investigate possible civil rights violations.
I seriously can’t believe this. We just finished the #BothamJean trial in DFW. #AtatianaJefferson was in her home playing games with her 8 year old nephew, and a cop shot her dead through her window in 3 seconds. These cannot be dismissed as tragic mistakes. These lives matter. pic.twitter.com/89HmVrIxQL
— Omar Suleiman (@omarsuleiman504) October 13, 2019
Jefferson’s death comes just two weeks after former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for fatally shooting her neighbor Botham Jean in his own apartment –which she had mistaken for her own– while arriving home off-duty.
Lee Merritt, an attorney for the families of both Jefferson and Jean, told CNN that she had been playing video games with her young nephew before she died. “There was no reason for her to be murdered,” he said.
I wanted to paint the last thing pre-Med graduate Atatiana Jefferson was doing before she was killed by the cops…
Her Life Mattered.#AtatianaJefferson #TayJefferson #DallasFortWorth #FWPD pic.twitter.com/xiavrFO0pX
— NIKKOLAS (@4NIKKOLAS) October 13, 2019
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