On Friday, a grand jury in Texas indicted a former Fort Worth police officer on a murder charge in the fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson.
NBC News reports that the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Aaron Dean, the 35-year-old former officer responsible for the shooting, had been indicted. Jefferson was a 28-year-old pre-med graduate student.
Lee Merrit, an attorney for Jefferson’s family, tweeted Friday evening that the family is relieved at the indictment but remain cautious that a conviction and proper sentencing are still well away.
On Oct. 12, Dean and a fellow officer were responding to a welfare check after a neighbor saw that the door to a home, which belonged to Jefferson’s mother, was left ajar. At the time, Jefferson was inside babysitting her nephew and playing video games. Publicly released bodycam footage shows an officer outside the home, peering through a window with a flashlight with his gun drawn. The officer yells “Put your hands up—show me your hands,” before a single shot is fired shortly after. Dean failed to identify himself as a police officer before firing his weapon.
Jefferson’s nephew told police that she had taken her handgun out of her purse when she heard noises outside. Police have said that she was within her rights to protect herself. Police Chief Ed Kraus was quoted as saying, “Had the officer not resigned, I would have fired him for violations of several policies, including our use of force policy, our de-escalation policy and unprofessional conduct.”
Coming after the shooting death of Botham Jean by an officer who broke into his home, the death of Jefferson has continued calls for better police accountability. While it remains to be seen if those calls will ever be answered, one hopes Jefferson’s family is given the justice they’re owed.