Former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean has been arrested and charged with murder in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson in her home, CBS DFW reported.
The arrest came just hours after Dean, who is white, resigned ahead of being fired over the weekend incident.
Jefferson, 28, was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew early Saturday morning when a neighbor noticed her front door open and called the Fort Worth police non-emergency number to ask for a welfare check, as CrimeOnline reported earlier.
The department released body cam footage showing Dean and another officer checking the home with flashlights, walking quietly and speaking in hushed tones. At no time in the video did they knock at the door or announce themselves.
Dean entered the back yard through a gate and a few moments later turned to the window, shouted “Put your hands up. Show me your hands!” and fires a single shot through the window. That shot killed Jefferson.
As news of the killing spread, the Fort Worth police said the officer was placed on administrative leave and had been with the department since April 2018. The police statement said that the officer “perceived a threat” and fired, but offered no details about that threat.
Calls for his termination grew from many in the community, and comparisons to the shooting death of Botham Jean by then-Dallas Police officer Amber Guyger spread. Guyger was convicted of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison earlier this month.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price released a statement on Monday saying she was directing the city manager to hire a third-party panel to completely review the police department “from top to bottom.” She directly addressed James Smith, the neighbor who called for the welfare check at Jefferson’s home, and her unnamed nephew:
To Mr. James Smith, I know you are hurting today as well. You called police to check on your neighbor because you cared about her safety and wellbeing. You were being a wonderful neighbor and doing the right thing to make sure she was ok. You are the type of person we all want living next door, watching out for us. Atatiana’s death has eroded your own your sense of safety and trust in law enforcement. I’m truly sorry.
To Atatiana’s nephew, who has witnessed an unspeakable loss — sorry doesn’t really cut it. This entire city needs to surround him with prayers, support, and anything his family needs.
Price also spoke about images of a gun attached to the end of the officer’s body cam footage, a weapon Fort Worth police said they found inside Jefferson’s home with no information about where it was found or whether the officer saw it before killing Jefferson. Price wrote that the gun was “irrelevant.”
Atatiana was in her own home, caring for her 8-year-old nephew. She was a victim. And she was taken from her family in circumstances that are truly unthinkable.
Earlier Monday, Fort Worth police interim Chief Ed Kraus identified Dean as the officer involved and said he issued his resignation before he could be fired. According to KXAS, Kraus said he intended to fire Dean for violations in his conduct, use of force, and de-escalation protocols.
The police chief said the bodycam footage made it clear that Dean acted “inappropriately” and said his record will reflect that he was dishonorably discharged from the force, the news station.
Kraus also said Dean is not cooperating with their investigation and that the FBI has been briefed in case they decide to investigate possible civil rights violations. He said that officials have also contacted Texas Rangers to address the possibility of them taking over the investigation.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast.
[Featured image: Atatiana Jefferson/Facebook]