The Slatest

Fort Worth Officer Who Fatally Shot Atatiana Jefferson in Her Own Home Resigns

Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus talks to reporters on Oct. 12, 2019.
Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus talks to reporters on Saturday.
Screenshot/WFAA

The police officer from Fort Worth, Texas who fatally shot a black woman in her own home while she was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew resigned on Monday. Police Chief Ed Kraus said at a news conference that he intended to fire Aaron Dean, who had been on the force since April 2018, on Monday morning but he resigned first. The officer may face criminal charges for the shooting of Atatiana Jefferson, 28, early on Saturday morning. Dean was set to be questioned Monday but so far has not been cooperative with the investigation. “He resigned before his opportunity to be cooperative,” Kraus said.

Dean was one of the officers who responded when a neighbor called a non-emergency police number to say he was worried because Jefferson’s doors were open and had been for hours. He shot and killed Jefferson through a window without ever identifying himself as a police officer or giving her more than a couple of seconds to react. Jefferson’s family members held a news conference earlier on Monday and demanded the officer be fired and criminally charged. They also demanded an independent investigation and called on the federal government to take over the probe. Ashley Carr, Jefferson’s oldest sister, said her sister was simply enjoying life in her home, “where no one would have expected her life to be in harm’s way, especially not at the hands of a civil servant who had taken the oath to serve and protect.” Her sister died because of an officer’s “reckless act,” she added. “There is simply no justification for his actions,” she said. “We demand justice for Atatiana through an independent and thorough investigation.”

Activist Cory Hughes also spoke alongside the family and demanded action. “What we are looking for is for this officer not only to be fired but to we are demanding that his officer be charged as well, like the criminal that he is,” Hughes said. “This life mattered. This family matters.” The family’s attorney, Lee Merritt, said the federal government needed to step in due to the recent spate of officer-involved shootings in Fort Worth. Jefferson was the seventh civilian to have been killed or wounded by a Forth Worth officer since June 1.

On Sunday, police Lt. Brandon O’Neil had confirmed that as the body cam video suggested, the officer didn’t identify himself before opening fire. “The officer did not announce that he was a police officer prior to shooting,” O’Neil told reporters Sunday. “What the officer observed, and why he did not announce ‘police,’ will be addressed as the investigation continues.”

Jefferson’s nephew was in the room when the shot was fired and saw his aunt fall to the ground, according to Merritt. The newphew later said the pair had been playing video games with the doors open to enjoy the breeze when they suddenly heard noise outside. “They looked at each other and listened more intently when they heard it again. Someone was outside. Tay went to the window to see who was out there,” Merritt wrote in a Facebook post. Merritt also wondered in a separate post: “What would have happened if that little boy went to the window instead of his auntie?”

Mayor Betsy Price said the killing was unjustified and agreed with the family that the gun found in Jefferson’s home was “irrelevant” to the investigation.  “I’m so sorry. On behalf of the entire city of Fort Worth, I’m sorry,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said. “To Atatiana’s family, it’s unacceptable. There is nothing that can justify what happened on Saturday morning. Nothing.”