The officer who shot the 28-year-old woman has resigned and could face criminal charges, Fort Worth police say. USA TODAY
FORT WORTH, Texas – The police officer, who fatally shot a black woman through a window in her home as she played video games with her nephew, was free on bond Monday after resigning from the department and being charged with murder.
Aaron Dean, who is white, was arrested Monday evening and freed hours later on $200,000 bond. The charge was filed less than three days after Dean, 34, shot Atatiana Jefferson, 28, while responding to a neighbor’s call that her door was open late at night.
S. Lee Merritt, lawyer for the Jefferson family, said the family was “relieved” that Dean was charged but added that a “vigorous prosecution and appropriate sentence” would be crucial to ensure that justice is done.
“If you think this is over you have not been paying attention,” he said. “Atatiana Jefferson deserved to live in a world where she was safe from brutality playing video games in her home with her nephew. (Her nephew) Zion deserves more too. Let’s change this world into the one he deserves.”
Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said Dean would have been fired and is considered dishonorably discharged from the department. Kraus said the U.S. Justice Department will examine the case for possible civil rights violations.
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Sgt. Chris Daniels said police and Tarrant County prosecutors were “diligently” investigating the incident.
“We understand that this is a tough and tragic event, not only for her family but for the community,” Daniels said. “We value the trust that we’ve had with our community. We will continue to build that trust.”
Dean had responded to a non-emergency call to police at 2:23 a.m. Saturday from neighbor James Smith, who told the dispatcher it was “not normal” for his neighbors to have the doors open and lights on at that hour.
Two officers arrived six minutes later. Body camera video released by police shows officers, armed with guns and flashlights, circling the home. An officer stops at a window.
The video ends with an officer shouting, “Put your hands up, show me your hands” before the sound of one gunshot. Jefferson was killed with a bullet fired through her bedroom window.
Police have confirmed what the video appeared to show – that the officer never identified himself as police. He also confirmed that Jefferson’s nephew was in the room.
Family members expressed shock and sadness over the shooting. Lapaca Jefferson, 57, was in Houston attending an anti-violence meetup over the weekend when he received news that his niece had been killed by a police officer in her own home.
“The Jefferson family’s dreams have been shattered,” he said. “It’s a great shock.”
Lapaca Jefferson said Atatiana was a loving, giving person who wanted to become a doctor to help people. “She was the one in her family who could really do good,” he said.
A police press conference was scheduled for Tuesday morning and family members planned their own media gathering later in the day.
The shooting took place less than two weeks after former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who is white, was convicted of murdering Botham Jean, a black man shot in 2018 as he ate ice cream in his home.
Bacon reported from McLean, Va. Contributing: Kristin Lam
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