Child Saw Atatiana Jefferson Point Gun At Unknown Intruder Before Cop Shot Her

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Fort Worth City Hall on Tuesday night to protest the killing of Atatiana Jefferson.

Fort Worth, TX – Hundreds of protesters gathered at Fort Worth City Hall on Tuesday night to denounce the city’s police force in the wake of the officer-involved shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson.

Inside city hall chambers, protesters repeatedly interrupted proceedings with chants of “we don’t feel safe,” while an estimated 200 more anti-police activists rallied outside the building, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

“How can we feel safe if we die in our homes?” resident Jamaal Johnson asked the council, adding that citizens no longer have pride in their community.

Many demanded that city leaders address alleged patterns of aggressive policing and racial bias they said have been exhibited by the Fort Worth Police Department (FWPD), the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Others called for the firing of Assistant City Manager Jay Chapa and City Manager David Cooke.

One woman was removed from the meeting after she jumped up and demanded that city leaders “let these people speak,” referring to nearly 60 residents who signed up to address the council that night, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“We know you knew this meeting would be large because of the number of officers that are here,” Estella Williams told the council. “You surround us with the very people we are here to complain about. We don’t feel safe.”

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price repeatedly tried to gain control of the chaotic scene, warning those in attendance that she would not tolerate outbursts.

Earlier in the day, protesters marched to city hall from the old Tarrant County Courthouse carrying signs that read “There is blood on FWPD’s hands” and “Stop Killing Our Children,” according to the paper.

“It’s time for the community and businesses to take us seriously,” United My Justice President Donnell Ballard said at the start of the march. “If we have to, we will interrupt events — Veterans Day parades, Christmas parades.”

During a press conference on Monday, Price declared that the relationship between FWPD and the community will not be repaired until Jefferson’s family has “justice.”

A “third-party panel of experts” has also been summoned to “review this department,” Price said.

On Tuesday night, Price said that she expects Cooke to have the third-party panel convened by the middle of November, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

In the wake of Jefferson’s death, former Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald released a statement criticizing the city that fired him back in May and demanding to be given his job back, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Fitzgerald also accused city leaders of being under the control of the police union.

“Having institutional control over the law enforcement agency is a must, especially when dealing with newer generations of officers who erroneously default to equipment over communications skills,” he said in the statement, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Price refused to speak about the former police chief’s demands, and called his move “an unnecessary distraction.”

Cooke accused Fitzgerald of using Jefferson’s death as a way to further his own personal agenda.

“We are saddened by the death of Atatiana Jefferson and do not think her death should be used as a platform for his meritless lawsuit,” Cooke told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

In the wake of the officer-involved shooting, city leaders refused to discuss whether or not Jefferson was holding a handgun when she was fatally shot by now-former Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean.

According to court documents released on Tuesday, Jefferson’s eight-year-old nephew told investigators about what he witnessed the night she was killed, KXAS reported.

The boy and his aunt were playing video games inside their home when they suddenly “heard noises coming from outside,” he told police, according to an arrest warrant.

Jefferson then retrieved a handgun from her purse and “pointed it toward the window,” at which point she “was shot and fell to the ground,” KXAS reported.

Fort Worth Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said that the officer’s use of deadly force was inexcusable, regardless as to where the gun was at the time of the encounter.

"The gun was found just inside the room, but it makes sense that she would have a gun if she felt that she was being threatened or that there was someone in the back yard,” Chief Kraus reiterated, according to KXAS.

"Human life is a precious thing and should not have been taken from Ms. Jefferson," he told reporters on Tuesday morning. "[To the public] I ask you please do not let the actions of one officer reflect on the other 1,700. There's absolutely no excuse for this incident and the person responsible will be held accountable."

Chief Kraus said that every FWPD officer he has spoken to since the officer-involved shooting said they agreed that now-former Officer Dean deserved to be arrested for murder.

"I don't have any officer saying this action should not have been taken against this individual, this officer,” Chief Kraus told reporters, according to KXAS. “I'm getting the complete opposite response. ‘Chief thank you for being quick and decisive. This is going to help heal us.’”

The incident began at approximately 2:25 a.m. on Saturday, when Fort Worth police received a call from Jefferson’s neighbor, James Smith, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Smith told the non-emergency dispatcher that he noticed that his neighbor’s doors were open and their lights were still on, which was unusual for that time of night.

He said that Jefferson lived at the East Allen Avenue home with her eight-year-old nephew.

Bodycam footage showed the officers as they checked on two open doors. They then made their way down a driveway to the back portion of the residence.

Dean opened a gate and came upon a darkened window to his right, the video showed.

“Put your hands up!” he suddenly ordered, with his duty weapon and flashlight pointed at the window. “Show me your hands!”

He then fired a single round, fatally wounding Jefferson, who died at the scene, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

“Perceiving a threat, the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot striking the person inside the residence,” the FWPD in a news release. “Officers entered the residence locating the individual and a firearm and began providing emergency medical care.”

Jefferson’s family said that she was inside playing video games with her nephew when they heard someone outside, according to their attorney, Lee Merritt.

The officer did not announce himself as law enforcement, bodycam footage showed.

When Jefferson peeked out the window to see who might be out there, she was shot, Merritt said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

It's also unclear if she would have had any way to know that it was a police officer who was confronting her.

According to Merritt, Jefferson was a “pre-med graduate of Xavier University” who was working in pharmaceutical equipment sales, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

“Before law enforcement goes about their pattern of villainizing this beautiful peaceful woman, turning her into a suspect, a silhouette, or threat, let me tell you about [her,]” he said. “She was very close to her family. She was the auntie that stayed up on Friday night playing video games with her [eight-year-old] nephew.”

Jefferson recently moved home to take care of her ill mother, he noted.

“There was no reason for her to be murdered. None,” Merritt said. “We must have justice.”

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Price blasted the FWPD for releasing images of the gun located in Jefferson’s home.

“The gun is irrelevant,” Price said. “She was in her own home… Atatiana was a victim.”

Chief Kraus said he hasn’t been able to “make sense” of the officer’s decision to discharge his duty weapon.

He said he shared the community’s concerns about the incident, and that he has demanded a thorough and speedy investigation into the matter.

“Nobody looked at that video and said that there’s any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately,” the chief told reporters. “I get it. We’re trying to train our officers better. We’re trying to shore up our policies, and we’re trying to ensure that they act and react the way that the citizens intend them to… with a servant’s heart instead of a warrior’s heart.”

Chief Kraus said that, “in hindsight,” releasing photographs of the firearm in Jefferson’s home “was a bad thing to do,” and that such images are generally released in order to show any “perceived threat” officers encountered.

“I think it was to show that there was a weapon involved, however, we’re homeowners in the State of Texas,” he added. “I can’t imagine most of us – if we thought we had somebody outside our house that shouldn’t be [and] we had access to that firearm – that we wouldn’t act very similarly to how she acted.”

Dean, who was hired by the FWPD in August of 2017, was placed on administrative leave on Sunday.

The 34-year-old officer resigned from the force on Monday.

“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,” Chief Kraus said. “Even though he no longer works for the city, we continue the administrative investigation as if he did.”

Had he not resigned, Chief Kraus said he would have fired the officer “for violations of several policies,” to include the FWPD’s use-of-force, de-escalation, and unprofessional conduct policies.

Dean was arrested for murder at approximately 6 p.m. on the day he resigned, The Dallas Morning News reported.

He was taken to the Tarrant County Jail on $200,000 bond and was released after posting bail approximately three hours later, according to CNN.

"We value the trust that we've had in our community, we will continue to build that trust," Fort Worth Police Sergeant Chris Daniels told reporters during a press conference following Dean’s arrest. "To the citizens and residents of our city, we feel and understand your anger and disappointment."

Jefferson’s family’s attorney tweeted about the former officer’s arrest on Monday night.

“The family of Atatiana Jefferson is relieved that Aaron Dean has been arrested & charged with murder,” Merritt wrote. “We need to see this through to a vigorous prosecution & appropriate sentencing. The City of Fort Worth has much work to do to reform a brutal culture of policing.”

Merritt said the former officer’s arrest was a “good start,” but that more needs to be done, The New York Times reported.

“It’s more than we are used to seeing,” the attorney noted. “Fort Worth has a culture that has allowed this to happen. There still needs to be a reckoning.”

Dean’s attorney, Jim Lane, called the officer-involved shooting a “tragedy,” KXAS reported.

Lane said that Dean has expressed remorse for what happened, and that his family “is in shock,” according to the news outlet.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is also reviewing the case for potential civil rights violations.

Jefferson’s family said that the entire FWPD needs to be held accountable for her death – not just the officer who pulled the trigger, The Dallas Morning News reported.

“This rookie cop is not going to be the scapegoat for what happened,” Jefferson’s brother, Adarius Carr, told reporters on Tuesday. “Yes, he’s going to take his punishment, but the system failed him… Whoever sent him out failed him. The training failed him. There’s a lot that has to get fixed. The city failed him.”

Comments (133)
No. 1-24
AnnykaV
AnnykaV

The brother may have a point in the last paragraph, but the outrage mob threatening to interrupt Veterans Day and Christmas parades? STFU and sit down. There's a time and a place, and those aren't it.

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

Isn't having a gun pointed at you typically a valid justification for a lethal force response, because you are facing an imminent threat? I am not saying the officer is blameless, but that little detail (that the homeowner was aiming a gun at him) means this isn't as cut and dry as was originally reported.

That's why I keep saying lets wait until all the details are investigated and revealed (and even give him a trial by a jury of his peers) before we sentence the officer, instead of giving into the mob mentality and hang him before all the details are even known.

DNW
DNW

It does make sense that he used his weapon if he saw the occupant pointing her gun out the window. What is unclear is why the officers did not i.d. upon approach of the property. Did the believe they were responding to a home invasion? In any case, Chief Kraus has given his opinion. The guy is going under the bus regardless. R.I.P. Ms. Jefferson.

Gmickel
Gmickel

They need to go home and get a job..he has been arrested for murder already

ScaleriBrosLawyer
ScaleriBrosLawyer

Jesus wept. Have some goddamn patience. In the space of two days the guy is no longer a cop and has been arrested for murder. What more do you want at this point? He's not going to face trial overnight, chill.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

Do the investigators have a recording of the boy saying that his aunt pointed the weapon? Or are they just telling us what this witness supposedly said?

flybynight
flybynight

Let the investigation run it's course. Even if the former LE gets 30 years in the electric chair the SJW won't be happy.

Ofcr.Tammy
Ofcr.Tammy

Firstly. The investigation in ongoing & NO information has been released.

Second. The information you claim to be "Revealed" is from the warrant affidavit.

The information was manufactured by the piecing together words of a traumatized 8 yr old child who saw his aunt gunned down in their own home.

Thirdly. The the partner of the killer, Officer C.A Darch herself has stated that no gun was seen.

The gun was found later, but to blatantly classify this as "She was pointing a gun" is a complete revision of facts & clear disregard of the truth.

How long was she given to identify them as police officers?

Excalibr4
Excalibr4

Better put that child into the witness protection program before the ghetto lottery relatives get ahold of the boy.

Musical1
Musical1

It bothers me that she was concerned about hearing noises but 2 doors are open at 2 am? I'm trying to wait until more information is available. Seems such a rush to judgement anymore.

HFD120
HFD120

Attorney Merritt... why don't you change your shingle from Attorney to "Publicity expert" or "Activist". Trying the case in the media before it is tried in a court of law is not fair to victim or officer. Can he get fair trial with all the pre trial publicity you generate? With all the prejudiced statements pre trial doesn't it open any verdict to appeal? The officer was arrested for murder within 2 days and jailed but that's not enough for you. The DOJ is even involved. You're not in the old west where mob justice prevails.

Raymelson
Raymelson

This is a tragedy for both families an every one should wait until the investigation is done before they jump to a conclusion of what happened

vwiles34
vwiles34

This was certainly a tragedy and mistakes were made but it seems as if this former officer is being convicted before his trial starts. It said a neighbor called because a door was open and that was of concern to him. It doesn't matter if he called 911 or the non-emergency number. At such a late hour it makes sense that the officers would look around before announcing themselves. An open door doesn't suggest a typical welfare check but a burglary. The lady hearing something in her back yard and pulling out her gun and pointing it toward the back window where she sees or hears someone is reasonable. The officer at that point had a split second to make some decisions. And unfortunately, he made mistakes. He should have identified himself as a LEO before telling them to put the gun down. But he didn't he just said put the gun down and then fired. So yes he screwed up and unfortunately, a fine young woman lost her life through no fault of her own. She did nothing wrong, the neighbor did nothing wrong and the police did nothing wrong up to the point of the shooting.

You had a rookie officer with a gun pointed at him who made the biggest mistake of his life. As I'm sure he didn't go out that night thinking I'm going to shoot some nice lady in her home tonight. But he did just that and now he must pay the consequences. It wasn't done in malice or in a fit of rage. It was an unfortunate accident just as if a driver accidentally goes through a stop sign and causes a fatal accident. They were taught better but in life accidents happen and some accidents we have to pay for with time in jail. But this is being used as nothing but an excuse for the usual suspects to show their ass and get their 15 min of fame by making it look like it was more than it was. A scared man in a blue uniform who in a split second made a huge mistake. And having a gun pointed at you isn't something you take lightly as it does scare the crap out of you. But he failed to fall back on his training and made a fateful mistake.

Should he pay for his mistake? Of course, he should but it should be tried in a court of law and his sentence based on the law and not on public opinion or politics. As far as murder charges go I don't see the key elements it seems more like manslaughter. But I'm not in Texas and I'm not a lawyer so my opinion is just that an opinion. In any case, I wish every time a person of color loses their life at the hands of a LEO you didn't see the circus come to town. Wait until you see the outcome before you start with all the mudslinging. We all have to co-exist and we have enough people outside our borders trying to tear us down. We don't need it within. Pray for this young lady gone too soon and her family as well as for this former officer who has to face the rest of his life with this burden and his family. And for those who are given the ordeal of deciding this man's fate in court.

TarnishedCopper
TarnishedCopper

It is a huge tragedy for all concerned. The officer has been charged. Let the damned courts do their job and decide. We do NOT allow "Trial by Public Opinion in our country!" No Lynching here! Acting-out like small children is not going to change what happened. One might question whether it is being done to "massage the facts" of what happened. Both the officer and the deceased were doing what they thought was right at the time. Again thoughts and prayers for all involved as well as the community.

Caroparks53
Caroparks53

Why were doors open? Why show herself at window? I have heard noises outside n last thing i did was show myself at window. Just alot of questions..and WHY no announcement from cops that they were outside..cops should ALWAYS identify..shouldn't they? I am very confused

Littlekittykat
Littlekittykat

So the point of these protests is????? Do they want the officer brought out and lynched without a trial? He's been charged..let the courts do their job. And please please stop with the "they're killing us" crap....blacks kill far more blacks (and whites and hispanics and Asians) than the police ever will. Protest the black plague of crime on society and maybe people will take you seriously.

Ofcr.Tammy
Ofcr.Tammy

[ BD54 said: front door being wide open, the last thing on her mind is a noise OUTSIDE the house. I question the boy's truthfulness in this matter. The only truth I see is that she had a gun and pointed it out the window at the police. In fact,

I would speculate that they were trying to ambush the police and it backfired.]

Yeah,

Ignore the fact screen doors were CLOSED.

Ignore the fact the victim was playing video games with her nephew.

the fact that the 62 yr old neighbor is expected to go out at 2:30 in the night & check on them if he does not want to call for assistance as voiced in the comments here.

RenStag
RenStag

In a society where so many cry out, “Don’t judge me”, there sure is an awful lot of judging going on in this case.

he733
he733

So a person with a gun in texas is unusual now? Why was her door open at 2am? How about it's her damn business and her home?

Now I get it...if you're a white cop shoot to KILL that way no one can dispute your story...and everyone will automatically give you the benefit of the doubt. If youre a non-white cop then you better hope your suspect isn't white because your brothers in blue WILL throw you under the bus ask Muhammad Noor the only time I saw police and ex-police NOT give a cop the benefit of the doubt in a shooting incident.

This woman was IN HER HOME in a state that has castle doctrine/stand your ground laws and upon seeing a stranger SNEAKING around her property at 2 am she may have gone for her weapon.

NO ONE is bothering to consider this incident from her POV and she can't claim castle doctrine because she's dead. So all we have to go on is the shooter's word..his body cam and the benefit of the doubt people will give him....the same doubt he NEVER gave her.

Bobholly79
Bobholly79

So a tragic accident is immediately seized upon to further an agenda

Sad

What ever happened to get the facts

Biggest POS is the chief of Police

Gee your officers must agree with you or be fired

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

I wonder whether the Fort Worth PD can get a grant, or donation, to get megaphones for their officers. That way they can announce in such a way that the people in the residence can be confident that it is the po-po out there, and not some kind of rapscallion!

he733
he733

tuggingalong
tuggingalong

This is very unfortunate but it doesn’t sound like a deliberate shooting. The lady probably feared she was about to be robbed so she pointed the gun and the cops were responding to a possible burglary and they see someone pointing a handgun at them. The cops should have loudly announced themselves.

The solution is to educate yourself, work hard and make vertical gains, and move to safer neighborhoods.

While I read this article, a half dozen black men were shot somewhere in the US, probably Chicago. Do black lives really matter to these protestors?

Det_John_Kimble
Det_John_Kimble

Who leaves their front door wide open at 2am?