Ft. WORTH, Tex. (KXAS) – The Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson in her home Saturday morning has been charged with murder, according to records obtained by KXAS1.
Officer Aaron Dean resigned Monday, interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said.
The officer was served a written administrative complaint Sunday, placed on detached duty and stripped of his badge and firearm, 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.
Kraus said the officer’s name is Aaron Dean. 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 officer, who was dishonorably discharged from the force, may face criminal charges, he 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.”
Two seconds after he shouted commands outside a house, a Fort Worth police officer opened fire into what looks like a dark room.
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,” said Lee Merritt, an attorney for Jefferson’s family and the family of Botham Jean, an unarmed black man killed at home by a Dallas police officer. “We must have justice.”
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.
“Perceiving a threat, the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot striking the person inside,” police said. Officers then went inside and gave emergency medical care.
Jefferson died at 2:30 a.m. Saturday in the bedroom of her home, the Tarrant County medical examiner said.
The officer didn’t announce ‘Police!’ prior to shooting
Police have released one minute and 17 seconds of the officer’s body camera footage leading up to the shooting.
The video shows the officer approaching an entrance to the home, where the screen door is closed but the solid door behind it is wide open. The room inside is lit.
The officer then walks around the house and approaches a window, shining a flashlight into what appears to be a dark room.
“Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” the officer screams. He does not identify himself as police.
Within two seconds of starting his verbal commands, the officer fires a shot through the window while he’s in the middle of saying “show me” for the second time.
That’s when the edited video footage provided by police stops.
“The Fort Worth Police Department is releasing available body camera footage to provide transparent and relevant information to the public as we are allowed within the confines of the Public Information Act and forthcoming investigation,” police said.
Police have not named the officer, who joined the department in April 2018. He has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.
“The officer did not announce that he was a police officer prior to shooting,” Lt. Brandon O’Neil told reporters Sunday. “What the officer observed, and why he did not announce ‘police,’ will be addressed as the investigation continues.”
O’Neil confirmed that Jefferson’s 8-year-old nephew was inside the room at the time of the shooting.
“The members of the Fort Worth Police Department share your very real and valid concerns, as do the members of this city and people across the country,” O’Neil said.
CNN requested the unedited body camera footage but has not received it.
Critics slam the photo of a gun
Immediately after the edited clip of the bodycam footage, a black screen appears with words “still frame 1 where weapon was located inside bedroom.”
Fort Worth police then show a photo of a room completely blurred out, except for a gun. Police did not say whether Jefferson was holding a gun at the time she was shot.
Critics such as Merritt, who is representing Jefferson’s family, said he’s concerned about police “villainizing” Jefferson or “turning her into a suspect, a silhouette or threat.”
He said an independent law enforcement agency should take over the investigation.
“We don’t think that Fort Worth Police should be investigating it on their own,” Merritt said.
A doting aunt who took care of her ailing mother
Just before she was killed, Jefferson was playing video games with her nephew, Merritt told CNN.
She had moved into her ailing mother’s home earlier this year to take care of her, the attorney said. Jefferson’s mother was in a hospital when her daughter was shot by police.
Merritt said Jefferson graduated from Xavier University in 2014 with a degree in biology and worked in pharmaceutical equipment sales.
“She was very close to her family,” Merritt said on a GoFundMe page benefiting Jefferson’s family. “Her mom had recently gotten very sick, so she was home taking care of the house and loving her life. There was no reason for her to be murdered.”
Merritt said the funds collected “will go directly to funeral cost and other expenses associated with this tragedy.”