#AtatianaJefferson: A List of Questions That Need Answers From Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus

Screenshot: Fort Worth Police Department (courtesy of NBC DFW)

The Fort Worth Police Department and its police chief, Ed Kraus, have a lot of explaining to do as it pertains to the senseless killing of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson in her mother’s home early Saturday morning.

A neighbor, James Smith, said he called a police non-emergency number when he noticed that the front door was open and all the lights were on inside the house. He wanted someone to go check and make sure everything was OK with his neighbor.

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Smith placed the call at 2:23 a.m., according to reports. By 2:30 a.m., Jefferson would be dead after an officer shot her through her bedroom window from outside the home.

How does something like this happen? So many questions have been left that need to be answered.

Why didn’t the officers announce themselves? 

The body camera footage shows the officer walk by Jefferson’s front door. It was wide open, but the screen door was shut. There was an opportunity there for the officers to call out to whoever may have been inside the home at the time and identify themselves as police officers. Why wasn’t this done?

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What’s the procedure for wellness checks and do officers generally draw their guns during those checks?

Again, Smith called a nonemergency number asking for a wellness check. He did not say he witnessed any criminal activity. He simply wanted police to make sure nothing was amiss. Why did police approach the situation as if they assumed they would encounter something dangerous? What is FWPD protocol and/or policy for handling wellness checks? Is there a policy in place?

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What is the alleged “perceived threat” the officer saw that caused him to fire into Jefferson’s bedroom window? 

This has not been explained, and it should be.

Why did the officer not identify himself as the police when he issued his command? 

When someone is inside of a house with the lights on, they cannot see what is going on outside in the dark, especially through a window. On the other hand, the officer outside in the dark has the advantage. He could have taken cover. Why did he not let Jefferson know he was a police officer?

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Why did the officer not allow enough time for Jefferson to respond to his command? 

About three seconds elapsed between the time the officer shouted for Jefferson to show her hands and him firing his weapon through the window of her bedroom. Why did he not allow time for her to comply?

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Why was the gun found in Jefferson’s home mentioned in initial reports put out by the police? Why was its significance not explained?

This is, after all, the state of Texas. It would not be surprising to know that guns are in every home. Why mention it, if it had nothing to do with her shooting? Was this an attempt to try to imply something that isn’t there? If she had been pointing the weapon at the police, we would have been told that right away. That was not said, so what was the point of mentioning the gun at all?

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This shooting comes on the heels of the conclusion of the Amber Guyger trial. Did that situation not create a need for further training for all Texas law enforcement agencies?

Have officers been advised to exercise caution? Use restraint?

When will the unedited body camera footage be released in its entirety?

The people deserve to know what happened in the moments before, during and after Jefferson was killed.

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And finally, will justice be served?

Correction: 10/14/19 4:52 p.m. ET: An earlier version of this story misspelled the police chief’s last name. The story has been updated.

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About the author

Monique Judge

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.