BREAKING NEWS : Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission terminates Electric Works development agreement Full Story

Former Fort Worth police officer charged with murder for killing Atatiana Jefferson in her own home

The former Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson in her home Saturday morning was arrested and charged with murder Monday, police sai...

Posted: Oct 14, 2019 9:17 AM
Updated: Oct 15, 2019 12:15 AM

The former Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson in her home Saturday morning was arrested and charged with murder Monday, police said.

The officer, Aaron Dean, was arrested around 6 p.m. CDT, and posted bail about 3 hours later, officials said. He was being held on a $200,000 bond, according to the county's inmate information website.

'The family of Atatiana Jefferson is relieved that Aaron Dean has been arrested & charged with murder,' Lee Merritt, an attorney for Jefferson's family, said in a statement.

'He did get what I wanted him to get, and this is only the start,' Adarius Carr, Jefferson's brother, told CNN. 'There's no way this is enough. We know this is a good step in the direction where we want to go, but it's definitely not the end.'

There will be 'a long road to a prosecution, conviction and an appropriate sentence,' Merritt said.

Police declined to say whether Dean was arrested by a Fort Worth officer or if he turned himself in. The department's major case and internal affairs units were 'working diligently to conclude the criminal administrative investigation' into the shooting, said Sgt. Chris Daniels.

'We value the trust that we've had in our community, we will continue to build that trust,' Daniels said. 'To the citizens and residents of our city, we feel and understand your anger and disappointment.'

Dean was served a written administrative complaint Sunday, placed on detached duty and stripped of his badge and firearm, interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said. He resigned Monday.

'My intent was to meet with him today to terminate his employment with the Fort Worth Police Department. However, the officer tendered his resignation this morning before we met,' Kraus said.

If Dean had not resigned, he would have been fired for several policy violations, including the department's use of force and de-escalation policies, and unprofessional conduct, Kraus said.

The department has presented a preliminary case to the FBI to review the officer's actions for possible civil rights violations, Kraus said.

'None of this information can ease the pain of Atatiana's family but I hope it shows the community that we take these incidents seriously,' he said.

Dean was hired in August 2017 and commissioned as a licensed officer in April 2018, Kraus said.

'There is nothing that can justify what happened,' mayor says

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said Monday the killing of Jefferson was unjustified.

'I'm so sorry. On behalf of the entire city of Fort Worth, I'm sorry,' Price told reporters. 'To Atatiana's family, it's unacceptable. There is nothing that can justify what happened on Saturday morning. Nothing.'

Police responded to Jefferson's house around 2:25 a.m. Saturday after a concerned neighbor noticed her doors were open in the middle of the night.

The neighbor, James Smith, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he called a non-emergency police number for a safety check. He said he was worried because he knew Jefferson was at home with her nephew.

Officers searched the perimeter of Jefferson's house and saw 'a person standing inside the residence near a window,' Fort Worth police said.

In heavily edited body camera video released by police, Dean can be seen pointing his weapon at the window and yelling 'Put your hands up! Show me your hands!' He does not identify himself as a police officer.

Two seconds later, he fired through the window.

Police said in a statement Saturday that he had 'perceived a threat,' and that officers provided medical care after the shooting.

Moments later, Atatiana Koquice Jefferson died in the bedroom of her own home with her 8-year-old nephew nearby.

Now Texans are outraged over the death of another black person killed at home by a white police officer.

'There was no reason for her to be murdered. None,' Merritt said. He also represented the family of Botham Jean, an unarmed black man who was killed at home by an off-duty Dallas police officer. 'We must have justice.'

The National Black Police Association (NBPA) said in a statement Monday night 'the death of Black citizens by white officers has reached critical mass.'

'That these events do not happen in other communities at the rate that they do Black communities is becoming more and more apparent, and police departments all over the country should be taking a collective introspective look at the nature and culture of their organizations,' the statement read.

Critics slam the photo of a gun

Police said in a statement that they found a firearm when they entered the room where Jefferson died. The video released by police shows two mostly blurred clips that appeared to be from inside the home, showing a firearm.

At a Sunday news conference, a reporter asked police spokesman Lt. Brandon O'Neil if Jefferson was holding the gun when the officer shot. He declined to answer.

'There was nothing nefarious or illegal about owning a firearm, and they presented in no way that that firearm was contributory to toward the use of deadly force here,' Merritt told CNN affiliate KTVT.

The NBPA said that by using police jargon like 'perceived threat' without elaborating, and by releasing photos of the gun, the department sought to blame Jefferson for the shooting. The group said it's an 'accountability issue' that Dean was not fired immediately, when the body camera footage was available to leadership.

'Many questions will likely never be answered, now that Dean has resigned,' the group said in its statement.

Merritt said an independent law enforcement agency should take over the investigation.

'We don't think that Fort Worth Police should be investigating it on their own,' Merritt said.

A doting aunt who took care of her ailing mother

Jefferson had moved into her ailing mother's home earlier this year to take care of her, Merritt said. Her mother was in the hospital on the night her daughter was shot by police.

Merritt said Jefferson graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2014 with a degree in biology and worked in pharmaceutical equipment sales.

The Xavier community was 'deeply dismayed' by Jefferson's death, University President Reynold Verret said in a statement.

'We should expect safety when we call on our police, whose mission is to protect and serve,' Verret said. 'Sadly, our fathers and mothers must caution daughters and sons on their interactions with officers. Families in our communities hesitate to call on their protectors out of fear that they be killed. This should not be.'

Jefferson was 'very close to her family,' Merritt wrote on a GoFundMe page benefiting her family.

'Her mom had recently gotten very sick, so she was home taking care of the house and loving her life. There was no reason for her to be murdered,' the post read.

Merritt said the funds collected 'will go directly to funeral cost and other expenses associated with this tragedy.'

Jefferson's 8-year-old nephew understands what's been happening, and was actually the one who told his mother, Jefferson's sister, about the shooting, the family said.

'We've noticed things about him that changed, but he's a strong one,' Carr said. 'We'll get him the treatment he needs to make sure he's good. ... He's doing strong, we believe in him.'

Echoes of Botham Jean

Jefferson's Fort Worth house is about 30 miles west of the Dallas apartment where Jean was killed last year.

An off-duty Dallas police officer, Amber Guyger, said she mistook Jean's apartment for her own and shot him, thinking he was an intruder. Guyger was convicted of murder this month and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Smith, the concerned neighbor who called police to Jefferson's house, said he now regrets trying to help.

'I feel guilty because had I not called the Fort Worth Police Department, my neighbor would still be alive today,' he told CNN affiliate KTVT.

Community activist and pastor Michael Bell said it's a harsh reality that 'you don't know if you will survive a wellness check call.'

'African Americans, we have no recourse. ... This has to stop,' he said.

'We're trying to obey the law, raise our families and get our kids into school, and we don't know if we're going to survive long enough to do that.'

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 67857

Reported Deaths: 2975
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion14710719
Lake7037269
Elkhart458276
Allen3611157
St. Joseph311479
Hamilton2489104
Cass17509
Hendricks1742105
Vanderburgh170012
Johnson1648118
Porter117439
Tippecanoe109411
Clark107545
Madison84265
LaPorte82929
Kosciusko81612
Howard80464
Marshall74222
Bartholomew73847
Floyd68444
Monroe68430
Noble63528
Delaware63352
Boone63246
Dubois62412
Hancock61637
Jackson5514
LaGrange54210
Shelby50926
Warrick50230
Grant49629
Vigo46810
Dearborn46128
Morgan41832
Henry36118
Clinton3523
White34510
Montgomery33821
Lawrence32627
Wayne3159
Decatur31332
Harrison28922
Miami2582
Scott24710
Daviess24319
Greene23834
DeKalb2214
Putnam2218
Jennings20712
Franklin20510
Jasper2032
Steuben1993
Gibson1984
Ripley1887
Perry17112
Starke1647
Orange16324
Wabash1583
Posey1570
Fayette1547
Jefferson1492
Whitley1486
Fulton1442
Carroll1422
Wells1312
Knox1290
Huntington1183
Washington1151
Spencer1133
Newton10910
Tipton1065
Randolph1024
Clay975
Jay820
Adams812
Rush794
Owen781
Sullivan751
Pulaski711
Brown701
Fountain632
Benton600
Blackford532
Ohio504
Parke451
Pike450
Switzerland430
Crawford420
Martin420
Vermillion380
Union320
Warren191
Unassigned0200

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 93031

Reported Deaths: 3529
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin17107514
Cuyahoga12646477
Hamilton9110247
Lucas4852318
Montgomery402477
Summit3248217
Marion287544
Butler268359
Mahoning2393253
Pickaway235242
Stark1679132
Lorain162076
Warren160035
Columbiana157060
Trumbull1421103
Fairfield123825
Delaware119418
Licking111642
Clark107613
Lake103435
Wood91058
Clermont83510
Medina83133
Miami76837
Tuscarawas74613
Portage71160
Allen64642
Greene61911
Belmont58926
Ashtabula53845
Richland53610
Geauga52843
Mercer52213
Erie51627
Wayne49258
Ross3874
Huron3714
Ottawa35225
Athens3441
Madison32910
Sandusky32917
Holmes3206
Darke31627
Hancock3152
Lawrence2160
Union2141
Auglaize2135
Jefferson2043
Washington19722
Putnam19317
Coshocton1856
Scioto1851
Muskingum1781
Knox1652
Crawford1645
Preble1642
Morrow1582
Shelby1574
Seneca1533
Hardin15012
Clinton1466
Fulton1391
Ashland1303
Defiance1294
Highland1271
Williams1233
Logan1201
Wyandot1195
Brown1121
Guernsey1106
Hocking1089
Carroll1075
Henry1061
Champaign1051
Perry1052
Fayette940
Monroe9018
Van Wert681
Pike660
Jackson650
Paulding590
Gallia571
Adams532
Vinton302
Meigs240
Morgan200
Harrison191
Noble160
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Scattered Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 64°
Angola
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 66°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 63°
Decatur
64° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 64°
Van Wert
64° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 64°
Cooler Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events