Trigger warning: gun violence, death
Aaron Dean, a white Fort Worth police officer, has been charged with murder after shooting a black woman, Atatiana Jefferson, 28, through the window of her home. Jail records show Dean, 34, was out on $200,000 bond Monday night, less than four hours after his arrest. Earlier in the day, he had resigned from the force, though the police chief clarified that he would have been fired if he hadn’t.
Meanwhile, the Fort Worth Police Department told the community that they would leave “no stone unturned” in their investigation. Police bodycam video showed Dean approaching the door of the home where Jefferson was playing with her 8-year-old nephew early Saturday. He then walked around the side of the house, entered a gate to the backyard and fired a shot through a window seconds after shouting at Jefferson to show her hands.
Dean did not identify himself as police on the video, and Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said neither Dean nor the other officer who responded to the call had even bothered to knock on the front door of the home. “Nobody looked at this video and said that there’s any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately,” Kraus added.
Sgt. Chris Daniels read a statement Monday night after the officer’s arrest in which he stated that the department’s major case and internal affairs units were working “around the clock” for justice in the murder case. “To the citizens and residents of our city: We feel and understand your anger and disappointment and we stand by you as we work together to make Fort Worth a better place for all of us,” Daniels said.
BREAKING: Aaron Dean, the Fort Worth officer who resigned after shooting Atatiana Jefferson dead in her home, has been arrested and charged with murder, police say https://t.co/73M93pOvOV— CNN (@CNN) October 15, 2019
Earlier in the day, Jefferson’s family had demanded that Dean, who had been on the force for just over a year, be fired and arrested. “Why this man is not in handcuffs is a source of continued agitation for this family and for this community,” family attorney Lee Merritt said, hours before Dean was booked into jail.
After his arrest, Merritt said the family “needs to see this through to a vigorous prosecution and appropriate sentencing” and added that “the city of Fort Worth has much work to do to reform a brutal culture of policing.”
Police had been called to Jefferson’s home at about 2:25 a.m. when a neighbor called a non-emergency line to report that the front door was open. In a statement over the weekend, the department said officers saw a woman inside the home and that one of them drew his gun and fired after “perceiving a threat.”
The police chief said, “I cannot make sense of why she had to lose her life.” The chief said Dean resigned without talking to internal affairs investigators. Police had mentioned that they found a gun in the home, but Krauss added that having a gun was common in Texas.
BREAKING: The Texas police officer who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black woman, in her own home on Saturday has resigned from the force. https://t.co/IU7aTwXkon— HuffPost (@HuffPost) October 14, 2019
“We’re homeowners in Texas,” the police chief said. “Most of us, if we thought we had somebody outside our house that shouldn’t be and we had access to a firearm, we would be acting very similarly to how she was acting.” Kraus later said he regretted releasing the images of the weapon. Meanwhile, Mayor Betsy Price called the gun “irrelevant.”
“Atatiana was in her own home, caring for her 8-year-old nephew. She was a victim,” she said.
A large crowd gathered outside Jefferson’s home Sunday night for a vigil, leaving flowers and stuffed animals on the street. The police chief said Dean could face state charges and that the case had been submitted to the FBI to review for possible federal civil rights charges.
Jefferson was a 2014 graduate of Xavier University in New Orleans and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. She was working in pharmaceutical equipment sales and was considering going to medical school, according to the family’s lawyer. She also cared for her mother, who was struggling with medical issues.