The Texas police officer who opened fire on and killed a woman inside her own home only seconds after he demanded she put her hands up was formally charged with murder early Monday evening, hours after his resignation from the Fort Worth Police Department.
“At approximately 6 p.m., [officer] Aaron Dean was arrested for the murder of Ms. [Atatiana “Tay”] Jefferson and he has since been booked into the Tarrant County Jail,” the department said in a statement late Monday evening.
“Our Major Case and Internal Affairs Units are continuing to work around the clock to ensure no stone is left unturned and justice for Ms. Jefferson’s family and community is served.”
— Fort Worth Police (@fortworthpd) October 15, 2019
The release of the statement was accompanied by a formal press conference during which Sgt. Chris Daniels assured “citizens and residents of our city” that members of the department “feel and understand your anger and disappointment.”
(Source: Fort Worth Police Department Periscope)
The officer’s arrest capped a turbulent series of days that began when Dean, who graduated from the Fort Worth Police Academy only two years ago, opened fire on Atatiana “Tay” Jefferson while performing a welfare check early Saturday morning.
A suspicious neighbor had noticed that Jefferson’s front door was open. While investigating the outside of the home, Dean spotted Jefferson standing at a window in a darkened room. Frightened by her sudden appearance, Dean yelled “Put your hands up, show me your hands!” and then fired seconds later, killing her.
Watch bodycam footage of the shooting below:
(Source: Fort Worth Police Department)
The death of Jefferson, a 28-year-old woman, sparked widespread anger over not only the horrifying nature of her death, but also the fact that she’d been killed only days after a former Dallas police officer, Amber Guyger, was handed a 10-year sentence for another patently unjust and unnecessary shooting.
In Guyger’s case, she “accidentally” entered the home of her neighbor Botham Jean in 2018 and killed him in fright, thinking he was a burglar. It was the height of incompetence, many argued. So – it could be said – was Dean’s killing of Jefferson, which occurred in front of her 8-year-old nephew.
“She was playing video games with her nephew when they heard what they believed to be a prowler creeping around the back window of the home,” attorney S. Lee Merritt, who represented Jean’s family and is now representing Jefferson’s family, said in a Facebook statement Saturday.
“When she went to see what was going on she was confronted by an officer with his gun drawn shouting commands. With just seconds to comply, she was shot through the window. She died from her injuries. This office has been retained to represent this family. We demand justice.”
A Fort Worth, TX police officer just shot 28 year old #AtatianaJefferson “Tay” to death in her own home. She was playing video games with her nephew when they heard what they believed to be a prowler creeping around the back window of the home. When she went to see what was going on she was confronted by an officer with his gun drawn shouting commands. With just seconds to comply, she was shot through the window. She died from her injuries. This office has been retained to represent this family. We demand justice.
Posted by Lee Merritt on Saturday, October 12, 2019
“He saw her when she fell,” he added in an additional statement, referring to the nephew. “He was present the entire time. He never left the room.”
The strong nephew was, in fact, the one who broke the news of his aunt’s death to her sister.
“The first thing he told me was he was sad, and I asked him why was he sad, and he told me because the police had shot his aunt,” Jefferson’s sister, Amber Carr, reportedly said. “At that time, I knew nothing about that, so he was the one who actually told me what had happened.”
“The boy shared a special bond with his ‘Aunt Tay,'” station WITI notes. “They didn’t just play video games together — Aunt Tay also taught him life skills, such as writing a schedule to help him stay organized and teaching him to be better prepared for school. Carr said she was amazed her young son was staying strong, despite witnessing such horror.”
“In the middle of the night when I’m crying, he wakes up and tells me to breathe in my nose and out my mouth,” Carr added. “He holds me. He hugs me, and these are the things I should be doing for him, but … he’s helping me to be strong, and I believe that’s because my sister had a big part in that.”
Although Jefferson’s family was “relieved” by Dean’s arrest, they’ve demanded “vigorous prosecution” and “appropriate sentencing” as well as more scrutiny into what appears to be a trend of “bad” (or simply incompetent?) police officers throughout the states.
The family of Atatiana Jefferson is relieved that Aaron Dean has been arrested & charged with murder. 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. pic.twitter.com/IG1nZLo1T5
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) October 15, 2019
Aaron Dean has been arrested. It’s a good start. He’s a bad apple. But don’t forget the bunch … it’s bad too (7 fatal police shootings in under 6 months) And who are picking these apples. There’s blood on their hands too. Accountability in Fort Worth is the long game. pic.twitter.com/mj9evvrk2t
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) October 15, 2019
In a statement to ABC News, Jefferson’s brother, U.S. Navy sailor Adarius Carr, said that the investigation should be handled by an outside agency.
“The Fort Worth PD cannot investigate themselves,” he argued. “The U.S. Navy is not allowed to do it, they should not be as well.”
“I’ve served my country for the last 12 years. In that time, I’ve been trained and taught that there are preplanned responses for everything you do,” he said. “Everything you’re trained about, there’s a way to do things. And when you don’t do it the way you’ve been trained or the way you’ve been taught, you have to answer for that.”
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