The Fort Worth, Texas, cop who shot into Atatiana Jefferson’s bedroom window and killed her as she was playing a video game with her 8-year-old nephew was arrested and charged with murder Monday.
Aaron Dean, who resigned from the force earlier Monday before charges were announced, was being held in jail without bond, according to the New York Times.
Jefferson, an Xavier University grad who the Times reports was known as “Tay,” was in her bedroom at her mother’s home, playing a video game with her young nephew, when Dean arrived about 2:30 Saturday morning.
He had been dispatched to do a “welfare check” after a neighbor called a non-emergency police number, concerned after noticing that the front and side doors of Jefferson’s home had been open for some time.
But police bodycam footage showed that within minutes of his arrival, Dean had shot and killed Jefferson after firing through her bedroom window.
Police brass on Monday acknowledged that the now-former officer was in the wrong.
Per the Times:
“I get it,” [interim Fort Worth Police] Chief [Ed] Kraus said of the widespread public outrage that followed the release of body camera video showing that Ms. Jefferson had been given no warning that it was a police officer who had crept into her backyard, shined a light into her bedroom window and shouted, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” immediately before firing a single fatal shot.
“Nobody looked at that video and said there was any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately,” the chief said.
But all of that is cold comfort, as Jefferson’s family and community tell the Times:
“I can’t stop crying,” said Lillie Biggins, a longtime community leader in Fort Worth who had recently served on a race and culture task force for the city. “My heart is absolutely crushed.”
Michael Bell, the senior pastor at Greater St. Stephen First Church in Fort Worth, was among those who criticized the officers for not knocking on the door or otherwise identifying themselves to give Ms. Jefferson a chance to respond.
“They approached it as if it were a tactical exercise, even though it was a welfare check,” he said.
The mowing down of unarmed black men, women and children time and again by police has enraged and unnerved many in the black community.
Just weeks ago, a white former Dallas cop, Amber Guyger, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for shooting and killing Botham Jean, a black 26-year-old accountant, as he sat inside his own home eating ice cream.
But in Fort Worth alone, there have been at least six fatal police shootings of black people since the summer, the Times reports.
“We’re beyond anger,” the Rev. Kyev Tatum, a pastor at Fort Worth’s New Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church told the Times. “It’s trauma now. It’s unaddressed, toxic stress.”
Atatiana Jefferson’s family were measured in their response to Dean’s arrest, providing a statement through their attorney, S. Lee Merritt, who tweeted:
“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.”