Texas Cop Charged With Murder In Fatal Shooting Of Atatiana Jefferson
Aaron Dean, the white Fort Worth, Texas, officer who opened fire on Atatiana Jefferson, fatally striking her inside of her mother’s home, was charged with murder on Monday evening. Jefferson, a Black woman, was unarmed.
The charge came hours after Dean stepped down from his position in the police department in the midst of protests and calls from Jefferson’s family who will never hold their loved one again. According to Yahoo News, the Fort Worth Police Department submitted a case to the FBI for federal investigators. Dean could also face possible civil rights violations as a result of the FBI’s findings.
“To the citizens and residents of our city, we feel and understand your anger and your disappointment and we stand by you as we work together to make Fort Worth a better place for us all,” said Fort Worth Police Sgt. Chris Daniel.
Disturbing body camera footage shows the moments before Jefferson, 28, was shot to death on Saturday around 2:25 a.m. while she was playing video games with her nephew. According to reports, one of Jefferson’s neighbors called the non-emergency police line to report a wellness check after he observed the front door slightly ajar. Jefferson was staying at her mother’s house to assist her with a previous injury. The family claims the door was left cracked so that cool air could circulate in the home.
The video footage shows officers shining a flashlight through the window as they approach and yelling, “Put your hands up — show me your hands!” right before firing the fatal shot which struck Jefferson. Her life was taken in seconds, without the officer identifying himself.
The department’s interim Police Chief Ed Kraus revealed that Dean was not cooperating during this period in the investigation.
“Had the officer not resigned, I would have fired him for violations for several policies, including our use of force policy, our de-escalation policy and unprofessional conduct,” Kraus said.
Jefferson’s family continues the fight to advocate on her behalf in conjunction with their lawyer, noted civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt.
“We need to see this through to a vigorous prosecution & appropriate sentencing,” Merritt tweeted on Tuesday after Dean was charged. “The City of Fort Worth has much work to do to reform a brutal culture of policing.”
Jefferson’s sister, Ashley Carr said her loved one was “simply going on along with her life, living a law-abiding citizen’s peaceful life, and she was killed by a reckless act of a Fort Worth police officer. There is simply no justification for his actions.” Carr is also the mother of the nephew who witnessed the shooting.
Her family described her as a loving woman with a deep interest in anatomy and biology, looking to further her education.
Jefferson’s death adds to the series of deaths deepening the distrust within the Black community and law enforcement. Saturday’s shooting marks the fifth incident in the Forth Worth area where a resident was fatally shot by police, WFAA.com reports. Earlier this month Dallas, Texas, was the main focal point, after former cop Amber Guyger was found guilty of murdering Botham Jean, who she shot and killed inside of his apartment while he was watching TV and eating ice cream.
“I want to go ahead and dispel the myth that this is somehow a one-off, that this is just a bad luck incident from an otherwise sound department,” Merritt said. “Fort Worth is one of the deadliest police departments in the United States. They are in need of serious systematic reform.”