Killing of Atatiana Jefferson

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Killing of Atatiana Jefferson
Fort Worth is located in Texas
Fort Worth
Fort Worth
Fort Worth (Texas)
Fort Worth is located in the United States
Fort Worth
Fort Worth
Fort Worth (the United States)
DateOctober 12, 2019 (2019-10-12)
LocationFort Worth, Texas, United States
DeathsAtatiana Jefferson

Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, a 28-year-old black American woman, was shot and killed in her home by a white American police officer in Fort Worth, Texas, United States, in the early morning of October 12, 2019.[1][2] Police arrived at her home after a neighbor called a non-emergency number, stating that Jefferson's front door was open.[2] Police body camera footage showed that when she came to her window to observe police outside her home, Officer Aaron Dean shot through it and killed her.[2] Police stated that they found a handgun near her body, which according to her 8-year-old nephew, she was pointing toward the window before being shot.[3][2][4] On October 14, 2019, Dean resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department and was arrested on a murder charge.[5][6]

News outlets noted similarities between the shooting to the September 2018 murder of Botham Jean. Both occurred in Texas and involved the shooting of a black person in their home by a white police officer.[1][5][7][8][9]

Shooting[edit]

Welfare call[edit]

Just prior to 2:30 AM on the morning of October 12, 2019, police received a "welfare call" from the neighborhood of Hillside Morningside, noting that the front door to someone's home was open.[1] According to Jefferson's family, prior to police arriving at her home, she was playing video games in her home with her nephew.[4]

Body camera footage[edit]

Body camera footage that had been heavily edited [10] and then released by the Fort Worth Police Department shows that two officers had walked quietly around the side of the home.[11] Officer Aaron Dean, had walked into Jefferson's backyard.[12] Seeing Jefferson in the window of her home, the officer yelled "put your hands up! Show me your hands!" and then fired a single shot through Jefferson's window.[1][12]

Describing the video, the BBC wrote that Dean fired "within seconds" of seeing Jefferson.[4] The BBC also wrote that the footage does not appear to show police identifying themselves or whether she was armed.[4] The footage also does not show any indication if Dean could see the gun that Jefferson held, as the view through the window was obstructed by the reflection from his flashlight. The officer partnered with Dean told authorities that she could only see Jefferson's face through the window.[13]

Nephew's account[edit]

Jefferson's 8-year-old nephew told the authorities that while playing video games they heard noises outside the window. Jefferson took her gun from her purse and pointed it at the window, before she was shot. The nephew's account was used as the basis for the arrest warrant. Interim Chief Kraus stated that it, "makes sense that she would have a gun if she felt that she was being threatened or there was someone in the backyard." According to the Jefferson family attorney Lee Merritt, the firearm was lawfully owned and Jefferson had a concealed carry license.[3]

Death[edit]

Jefferson was killed by the shot and pronounced dead at 3:05 am[3] at the scene.[1] Police officers stated that they attempted to provide emergency medical care to Jefferson and were unsuccessful.[4]

Victim[edit]

Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, a 28-year-old black woman, was a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana.[4][9] Relatives said she worked in human resources.[12] She lived in the house to care for her mother and nephew.[12][4]

Accused[edit]

On October 14, 2019, Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus identified Officer Aaron Dean as the shooter. Dean was commissioned as an officer with the Fort Worth Police Department in April 2018 after completing the Fort Worth Police Academy in March, 2018. At the time of the shooting, Dean had been with the department approximately 18 months. Prior to the shooting, the only substantial entry in his Fort Worth police personnel file was about a traffic collision.[14][15]

In 2004, Dean received a citation from the Arlington Texas police for assault by contact, a class C misdemeanor, while at the University of Texas for touching a woman’s breast in the campus library. The incident was discussed during his videotaped job interview with the Fort Worth Police. He pled no contest and paid a fine. According to the Fort Worth Police Department, a Class C misdemeanor would not prevent employment with their department as a police officer.[16]

Dean's training records from his first year on the job note concerns from supervisors. These concerns included that he had "tunnel vision" and "needs improvement on communicating with the public and fellow officers." Dean’s most recent performance evaluation was made in spring 2019, where he received high marks from a supervisor.[17][18]

Manny Ramirez, the president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association said Dean has never been the subject of a police investigation. Interim Police Chief Kraus said Dean resigned before he could terminate Dean for violating departmental policies on use of force, de-escalation, and unprofessional conduct. Kraus said Dean has refused to cooperate with investigators and has not allowed Kraus to question him. Dean has not given an oral or written statement to investigators. Ramirez said he and other officers with knowledge of the situation were dumbfounded why Dean would have fired his weapon in this situation. Ramirez also said there was no way to explain Dean’s actions. [14][15][19][20]

Dean is being represented by attorney Jim Lane. Based on footage from his body camera which captured the shooting, a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was arrested at his attorney’s office on October 14, 2019 and booked into the Tarrant County Jail on a charge of murder. He was given a $200,000 bond, which he posted and was released about three hours later. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge. On October 25, 2019, Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson said evidence will also be presented to a grand jury for a formal indictment. Dean is the only officer to face a murder charge in Tarrant County for a shooting committed while on duty.[21][15]

Investigation[edit]

Police officials stated that the officer fired after perceiving a threat.[12][1]

Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus stated that Dean resigned before he could be fired for what Kraus said included violating departmental policies on use of force, de-escalation, and unprofessional conduct.[22] The separation paperwork for Dean is to be sent to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, and it would reflect that he was dishonorably discharged from the department.[23]

Dean was arrested and charged with murder on October 14, 2019.[6] He was booked into the Tarrant County Jail, where his bail was set at $200,000.[24] Hours later he was released on bond.[13] Kraus said that Dean had not provided a written statement or answered questions.[22] [3]

Reactions[edit]

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price called the event "tragic" and promised a "complete and thorough investigation" by police chief Ed Kraus.[1] CBS News reported that the investigation would then be forwarded to the Law Enforcement Incident Team for the Tarrant County District Attorney.[1]

The NAACP called Jefferson's death unacceptable.[4] The neighbor who called for the welfare check told reporters that he never intended for an aggressive law enforcement response. He stated: "No domestic violence, no arguing. Nothing that they should have been concerned with, as far as them coming with guns drawn to my neighbor's house. There wasn't any reason for a gun shot that I know of."[25]

Jefferson's funeral was paid for by two professional athletes; former Dallas Mavericks player, Harrison Barnes and Philadelphia Eagles player Malik Jackson. A GoFundMe was also created by the family lawyer on behalf of the family.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Fort Worth police officer fatally shoots woman in her own home". CBS News. 12 October 2019. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Chavez, Nicole; Silverman, Hollie (13 October 2019). "A woman was shot and killed by a Fort Worth police officer in her own home". CNN. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Branham, Dana; Emily, Jennifer (2019-10-15). "Atatiana Jefferson pointed gun at window before Fort Worth officer killed her, nephew told authorities". Dallas News. Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Black woman shot dead by Texas police through bedroom window". BBC. 13 October 2019. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Fort Worth, Texas, police officer who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson resigns". NBC News. Retrieved 2019-10-14.
  6. ^ a b "Murder charge follows resignation of Fort Worth officer who shot woman in her home". Fort Worth Star Telegram. October 14, 2019. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  7. ^ Yan, Holly; Vera, Amir; Jones, Sheena (14 October 2019). "Former Fort Worth police officer charged with murder for killing Atatiana Jefferson in her own home". CNN. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  8. ^ Hawkins, Derek; Paul, Deanna (14 October 2019). "Fort Worth officer who fatally shot woman in her home has been charged with murder, police say". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  9. ^ a b Allyn, Bobby (13 October 2019). "Fort Worth Officer Kills Woman In Her Bedroom In Response To 'Open Structure Call'". NPR. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  10. ^ CNN, Holly Yan, Amir Vera and Sheena Jones. "Former Fort Worth police officer charged with murder for killing Atatiana Jefferson in her own home". CNN.
  11. ^ Hawkins, Derek (13 October 2019). "Fort Worth police officer fatally shoots woman in her home while checking on an open front door". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  12. ^ a b c d e Alvarez, Eric (12 October 2019). "Who was Atatiana Jefferson? Woman killed by Fort Worth police officer in her home". WFAA. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  13. ^ a b Bacon, John; Jervis, Rick. "Fort Worth police chief: 'No excuse' for Aaron Dean to shoot Atatiana Jefferson in her home". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  14. ^ a b Manna, Nichole (October 15, 2019). "Police shooting of Atatiana Jefferson: What we know, what we don't know". Fort Worth Star Telegram. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  15. ^ a b c "What We Know About the Fort Worth Police Shooting of Atatiana Jefferson". The New York Times. October 24, 2019. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  16. ^ Blakey, Katy (November 4, 2019). "Job Interview Sheds Light On Former Officer's Assault Charge". NBC Dallas Fort Worth. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  17. ^ Friedman, Scott; Douglas, jack (November 1, 2019). "Job Interview Video Sheds Light on Police Officer Who Killed Atatiana Jefferson". NBC Dallas Fort Worth. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  18. ^ Riley, Parker (November 2, 2019). "Disturbing Job Interview Video Released Of Former Cop Who Killed Atatiana Jefferson". NewsOne. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  19. ^ Feuerherd, Ben (October 14, 2019). "Fort Worth cop Aaron Dean charged with murder in shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson". New York Post. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  20. ^ Hawkins, Derek; Deanna, Paul (October 14, 2019). "Fort Worth officer who fatally shot woman in her home has been charged with murder, police say". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  21. ^ Connelly, Christopher (October 25, 2019). "Grand Jury Will Decide If Case Of Ex-Cop Who Killed Atatiana Jefferson Goes Forward". Houston Public Media. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  22. ^ a b Nichole Manna, Police shooting of Atatiana Jefferson: What we know, what we don't know, Fort Worth Star Telegram, October 14, 2019. https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/crime/article236196638.html
  23. ^ Hutchinson, Bill; Moore, Marcus (October 15, 2019). "Officer who fatally shot woman in her home arrested on murder charges". ABC News. Retrieved 2019-10-19.
  24. ^ "Fort Worth officer jailed on murder charge after fatally shooting Atatiana Jefferson". The Dallas Morning News. October 14, 2019. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  25. ^ Allyn, Bobby (October 13, 2019). "Fort Worth Officer Kills Woman In Her Bedroom In Response To 'Open Structure Call'". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-10-13.
  26. ^ Steele, Tom (2019-10-17). "Ex-Dallas Mavericks player Harrison Barnes helps pay for Atatiana Jefferson's funeral". Dallas News. Retrieved 2019-10-18.