Woman killed by police in her own home
On Friday, October 11, 2019, a woman by the name of Atatiana "Tay" Jefferson was fatally shot in her home in Fort Worth, Tex., by a police officer who has now been arrested on murder charges.
According to police reports, Jefferson's neighbors called the police after realizing that her front door had been left open. What should have been a wellness check soon turned fatal when, according to the 8-year old child that was present during the murder, Jefferson heard a noise outside of her home and reached into her purse for her gun. As she edged towards her window, she was shot dead by Aaron Dean, one of the dispatched officers.
It was not the officer's first offense. He was already facing scrutiny before the incident for allegedly violating multiple department policies. He abruptly resigned the following Monday just before he was fired.
According to Tarrant County court records, the officer, Aaron Dean was released on bond late Monday.
Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus addressed the situation in a news conference after the suspect's arrest. Informing the public, he stated, "I certainly have not been able to make sense of why she had to lose her life." He went on to say, "On behalf of the men and women of the Fort Worth Police Department, I'm so sorry for what occurred.
Lee Merritt, the civil rights representative of the family, also released a statement informing the public that the family was "relieved" by the news of Dean's arrest.
According to the police chief, he was originally scheduled to meet with the suspect on Monday morning, but Dean resigned before the chief was able to meet with him. "Had the officer not resigned, I would have fired him for violation of several policies, including our use of force policy, our de-escalation policy, and unprofessional conduct," Kraus said. The family of Jefferson feel that Dean shouldn't have been given the option to resign and should have been fired directly after Jefferson's death.
Merritt stated, "The opportunity to resign is a slap in this family's face and it's a slap in the community's face ... He should have never been given that option. And I want us to stop treating this like it's a bad apple case. The saying is 'a bad apple spoils the bunch.' But the barrel is rotten from the core."
Multiple public figures and celebrities have taken to social media in defense of Jefferson, including musician and entertainer Ice Cube. In a series of tweets, the star demanded murder charges for Dean and called him "an animal."
According to Kraus, an investigation of Dean will proceed, and a report of the shooting has been sent to the FBI to review Dean's actions for possible civil rights violations. Kraus stated that the suspect has not be cooperative with the investigation.
Kraus also said that Dean's paperwork would "reflect that he was dishonorably discharged from the Forth Worth Police Department."
Ashley Carr, Jefferson's sister, decided to speak out, informing the public that her family accepts the apologies from the police chief as well as other city officials, although they are not satisfied with the efforts being put forth by the justice system. Carr said, "I want justice for my sister." She added, "I want her death not to be in vain."
Jefferson was, according to her sister, a pre-med graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana. She is said to have given up on her career in order to take care of their sick mother and their sister, Amber. She even went to the lengths of raising her sister's two young children after their mother underwent heart surgery, one of whom witnessed her death.
After the gun was discovered, the Fort Worth Police Department released a photo, but the mayor addressed this evidence stating, "The gun is irrelevant. She was in her own home caring for her 8-year-old nephew. Atatiana was a victim." Kraus agreed, saying that the release of the photo was inappropriate and was intended to "show what the perceived threat may have been."
The gun which, according to her family, Jefferson had a permit to carry, was found inside of the window of the home.