Fort Worth police officer charged with murder for killing Atatiana Jefferson in her own home

Posted at 8:38 PM, Oct 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-15 11:11:07-04

The former Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson in her home Saturday morning was arrested and charged with murder Monday, police said.

The officer, identified as Aaron Dean, is being held in the Tarrant County Jail, the Fort Worth Police Department wrote on Twitter.

Lee Merritt, an attorney for Jefferson’s family, says neither he nor the family have a reaction at the moment. The family had been calling for Dean to be arrested and charged.

Dean resigned earlier Monday. He was served a written administrative complaint Sunday, placed on detached duty and stripped of his badge and firearm, interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said.

“My intent was to meet with him today to terminate his employment with the Fort Worth Police Department. However, the officer tendered his resignation this morning before we met,” Kraus said.

If Dean had not resigned, he would have been fired for several policy violations, including the department’s use of force and de-escalation policies, and unprofessional conduct, Kraus said.

The department has presented a preliminary case to the FBI to review the officer’s actions for possible civil rights violations, Kraus said.

“None of this information can ease the pain of Atatiana’s family but I hope it shows the community that we take these incidents seriously,” he said.

Dean was hired in August 2017 and commissioned as a licensed officer in April 2018, Kraus said.

‘There is nothing that can justify what happened,’ mayor says

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said Monday the killing of Jefferson was unjustified.

“I’m so sorry. On behalf of the entire city of Fort Worth, I’m sorry,” Price told reporters. “To Atatiana’s family, it’s unacceptable. There is nothing that can justify what happened on Saturday morning. Nothing.”

Police responded to Jefferson’s house around 2:25 a.m. Saturday after a concerned neighbor noticed her doors were open in the middle of the night.

The neighbor, James Smith, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he called a non-emergency police number for a safety check. He said he was worried because he knew Jefferson was at home with her nephew.

Officers searched the perimeter of Jefferson’s house and saw “a person standing inside the residence near a window,” Fort Worth police said.

In heavily edited body camera video released by police, Dean can be seen pointing his weapon at the window and yelling “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” He does not identify himself as a police officer.

Two seconds later, he fired through the window.

Police said in a statement Saturday that he had “perceived a threat,” and that officers provided medical care after the shooting.

Moments later, Atatiana Koquice Jefferson died in the bedroom of her own home with her 8-year-old nephew nearby.

Now Texans are outraged over the death of another black person killed at home by a white police officer.

“There was no reason for her to be murdered. None,” Merritt said. He also represented the family of Botham Jean, an unarmed black man who was killed at home by an off-duty Dallas police officer. “We must have justice.”