Ex-Fort Worth Cop Indicted For Murder In Death Of Atatiana Jefferson

Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean was investigating a potential burglary call when he shot Atatiana Jefferson.

Fort Worth, TX – The Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot a woman in her home while investigating a potential burglary report in October has been indicted for murder.

A Tarrant County grand jury handed down the indictment against now-former Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean, 35, on Friday morning, KXAS reported.

The date for Dean’s trial has not yet been announced.

The incident began at approximately 2:25 a.m. on Oct. 12, when Fort Worth police received a call from Atatiana Jefferson’s neighbor, James Smith, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported at the time.

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, 28, lived at the East Allen Avenue home with her eight-year-old nephew.

But the call for service was dispatched as a potential burglary report – not as a welfare check like her neighbor intended.

"The information came from the neighbor to the call-takers and while it was relayed to the dispatch, it was determined to be an open structure call," Fort Worth Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus explained during a press conference, according to CNN.

As a result, the officers responded to the call differently than they would have if the call would have been dispatched as a welfare check.

Phoenix Law Enforcement Association President Michael “Britt” London said that officers approach “open structure” calls more cautiously due to the wide array of scenarios that could lead to such a call being made, CNN reported.

"You are at a higher sensitivity to what is going on with that house," London told the news outlet. "You have to be ready for anything. You are taking more of your environment in consideration to be ready for a surprise if there's one."

Officers generally consider the possibility of burglary when handling such calls, CNN reported.

According to court documents, Jefferson's nephew told police that he and his aunt were playing video games inside their home when they suddenly “heard noises coming from outside,” KXAS reported.

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,” according to an arrest warrant.

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.”

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

In the wake of the fatal shooting, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price blasted the FWPD for releasing images of the gun they located in Jefferson's home.

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

“We are all heartbroken today. Atatiana was a beautiful, smart, amazing young woman, by all accounts, who was unjustly taken from her family,” Price told reporters. “The entire city is in pain…I can’t imagine anything worse, and I’m so sorry. On behalf of the entire city of Fort Worth, I’m sorry…it’s unacceptable. There is nothing that can justify what happened.”

The mayor 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 summonsed to “review this department,” Price said.

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

“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 Oct. 13.

He resigned from the force the following day, just hours before he was arrested for murder, The Dallas Morning News reported.

“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 on Oct.14. “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.

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.

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.

Comments (115)
No. 1-19
Excalibr4
Excalibr4

I don't care if you are the "little old lady from Pasadena". You point a gun at me and I will shoot. This is exactly what he did. The whole case is hinged on him not announcing himself, which could have prevented the fatal encounter. However, any fool knows 'Show me your hands!" is a police order. To then point a gun at the cop was beyond stupid. His Chief is the main problem here. Trying to cover his ass, he is willing to send his officer to prison.

MSK
MSK

The police are dispatched to a possible burglary and encounter an individual pointing a gun at them. I wasn’t there (neither was the mayor or police chief who were very quick to throw the officer to the wolves) Clearly the officer felt his life was in jeopardy. You can’t tell me that with all of the police officers being shot today that officers aren’t a little quicker to react to a perceived threat.

DNW
DNW

Dispatch needs to take it's share of the responsibility for this one. Chief was obviously prepared to throw his officer under the bus before there was even an investigation.

Milman
Milman

Someone needs to drag this Chief's a$$ along on the next 19 burglary calls. Put him in front and see what he does! Use him as a shield if necessary!! What a dick!

whatalways3parts1
whatalways3parts1

TRAGEDY ? Yes, for not Stating the ROOT of WHY this Tragedy happened at all!!

The Officer did his job, by What he was told by DISPATCH. Investigate that, please.

Tragedy for the Officer. !!

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

Yes, cop should have identified himself.... but if you aim a firearm at a uniformed officer, and you get shot, when he says to drop the weapon, then I have little sympathy for you. This is an indictment based on public opinion, and the emotional outrage of the uninformed; hopefully the city cuts a big check to the family (because mistakes were made) and the officer is found not guilty (because it was self defense).

thecatinmybed
thecatinmybed

Dumb bitch.

61mouse
61mouse

Well if their going to charge him then they should also charge the dispatcher .

Marxest
Marxest

"Hang 'im high!"

LEO0301
LEO0301

"“The gun is irrelevant,” Price said" The gun is not irrelevant. The gun pointed at the officer is what caused him to react.

"Chief Kraus said he hasn’t been able to “make sense” of the officer’s decision to discharge his duty weapon." I'll help you out chief since it's obvious you never worked the streets. The officer discharged his gun for a couple of reasons. 1) he was dispatched to a burglary. 2) there was a gun pointed at the officer. Should he wait until she shot him first?

The dispatcher is the one who should be going to jail, not the officer. Words matter. A welfare check is much different than a burglary call.

The chief and mayor are trying to placate the black community. If an officer has to go to jail to appease the masses, so be it. It's a shame what is going on in the law enforcement community nowadays. It's no wonder most agencies are having difficulty filling vacancies.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

#badannouncement

Raymelson
Raymelson

It appears to me like an accident an the dispatcher is more to blame than anyone else I don't a jury will find him guilty

IMO
IMO

I support LE, but you cops here are pissing me off. You all are upset because the chief is throwing his officer under the bus, but you all certainly have no problem throwing dispatch under that same bus! Unless and until we hear a recording or see a transcript of the call made to dispatch by the neighbor, you have NO reason to blame the dispatcher. Depending on what the caller said, it could be the fault of the neighbor who called it in. Dispatch codes calls based on what was said, and keeping OFFICER SAFETY in mind.

AnnykaV
AnnykaV

We need professional liability insurance for LEOs, since their cities and counties clearly don't have their backs.

Thinblueline
Thinblueline

shitty situation all around....I feel bad for the cop and the lady who lost her life...dispatch needs to do a better job....I have always said, I never believe anything dispatch tells me, it gets convoluted and lost in translation.

Bobholly79
Bobholly79

Again politicans and politics With the Monday morning second guessing....

The Pos Chief and Pos Mayor

Release the gun photos to keep everyone informed

MURDER???

So this officer went to the scene on false information to shot and kill a burglary suspect POINTING A GUN AT HIM!!

WTF??

Gee chiefy boy should he have waited to be shot before responding!!

Gee chiefy boy what size are the uranium chips in your stars that fried your brain

Balkanbobby
Balkanbobby

This is another example of why, in the not too distant future, it will be a cold day in hell before law enforcement agencies are able to recruit and hire qualified officers to fill the vacancies left by those that are leaving this profession.

Amitzah Mitzvah
Amitzah Mitzvah

Actually, the Police Officer did exactly what he was suppose to have done.

The dispatcher is the person that should be charged with Second Degree Manslaughter.

Had the dispatcher not assumed a possible burglary in progress, MS. Jefferson most likely would still be alive today. Stop with the hang him bs. Obviously he didn't intend to shoot Ms. Jefferson.

She was armed. She was going to protect her home, her 2nd Amendment rights (she obviously believed and supported in the 2nd Amendment.) Had she known the Police were on the way, most likely sgexwould gave called 911 to cancel the call. Why isn't she being charged? Can't charge a deceased person? If she had lived perhaps she would have filed charges. Perhaps she wouldn't have been shot at all.

Oh! And let's not forget the very concerned neighbor. Obviously the concern was genuine. In calling, protecting him or herself from possible harm, called the Police. He didn't say the home had been broken into. The only comment was it wasn't normal at that time for those events to be happening ... Should the neighbor be charged?

And what about the telephone companies? They made the ability for the telephone to be accessible in the event of an emergency ... Starting to sound incredibly ridiculous? If so, you get what I am saying.

Amitzah Mitzvah
Amitzah Mitzvah

As a front seat driver, whenever anybody rides in my vehicle ( when I gave a vehicle), I always request they use the seatbelts. If for some reason I have to stop suddenly I automatically raise my hand in front to "catch whomever" that is in the passenger front seat so no harm will happen to him or her.

Although everybody knows seatbelts are safe.

My point in telling you about this reaction, is a common occurrence in 100% of responsible drivers. 100%

The importance of that? The Police are trained for a gazillion potential situations. If you are looking straight into a barrel, I promise you, with every word of your training you will react with the extreme priority, which isn't to waste time saying I am Officer (Whoever). Why? If that is a person that is going to kill a Police Officer, that Officer took up precious time thinking which scenario to save his butt that just got him killed because he didn't react fast enough because he would have, in essence, been trying to not only identify himself, but to talk himself out of a bad situation, and to deescalate a life or death stand off.

The Police Officer was in the right.