Former cop who killed black woman in her home charged with murder

National

A former police officer who resigned Monday after fatally shooting a black woman in her home has been booked in jail for murder, according to the Fort Worth Police Department.

Aaron Dean, who is white, fatally shot 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson early Saturday morning as she played video games with her nephew. His bond has been set at $200,000. 

The Fort Worth Police Department said that officers responded at about 2:25 a.m. Saturday after a neighbor called a non-emergency line to report that Jefferson’s home’s front door had been left open.

The department added that officers saw someone near a window inside the home and that one of them fired after “perceiving a threat.”

The video released by police shows two officers searching the home from the outside with flashlights before one shouts, “Put your hands up, show me your hands.” One shot is then fired through a window.

The officer does not identify himself as police.

“The family of Atatiana Jefferson is relieved that Aaron Dean has been arrested & charged with murder,” family attorney Lee Merritt wrote on Twitter. “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.”

At a news conference Monday afternoon, police chief Edwin Kraus announced that Dean had resigned and apologized for Jefferson’s death. Kraus said he intended to fire the officer Monday for violations of the department’s use of force and de-escalation policies. 

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

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Aaron DeanTARRANT COUNTY

Dean was hired by the department in 2017 and had been an officer since 2018, Kraus said. He had been involved in a traffic accident but had no other previous disciplinary incidents on his record. Responding to a reporter’s question about how the incident affects trust between the police department and the community, Kraus said “I get it,” and said reform efforts are underway.

An independent police monitor and a third-party panel of experts are being brought in to review the police department — an effort that was underway before Jefferson’s death, according to the city manager.   

Jefferson had moved into her mother’s home because her mother had been in failing health and was recently hospitalized, the family said. She often helped care for her young nephews, including 8-year-old Zion. Merritt said Jefferson stayed up late playing video games with the boy and had “lost track of time” when they heard noise outside her bedroom window.  

Police said the officers didn’t park their marked vehicles in front of the home, instead parking nearby and walking to the home. Merritt said the officers passed two open doors and never announced themselves, instead “prowling and whispering” outside.  

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