The police officer who shot a Texas woman while she was inside her Fort Worth home playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew over the weekend has now been charged with her murder.
Aaron Dean, 34, was charged with murder Monday, not long after he resigned from his job on the Forth Worth Police Department force. His bail was set at $200,000 and he bonded out by Monday night, NBC in Dallas Forth-Worth reports.
Dean killed Atatiana Jefferson, 28, in what was supposed to be a wellness check. Jefferson’s neighbor, James Smith, said he called a non-emergency number out of concern for Jefferson because her front door had been open for several hours and something didn’t look right to him, he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Within minutes of Forth Worth Police department officers arriving on scene, one of the officers shot Jefferson through a window as she stood inside her own home.
In response to Dean's arrest, Jefferson’s brother Adarius Carr told the Dallas Morning News, “That’s a huge step for us. They are willing to understand this is serious and we mean it. Justice is important to us.”
Fort Worth interim police chief Ed Kraus said during a Monday news conference that the police department had been planning on firing Dean before his resignation.
"Had the officer not resigned, I would have fired him for violations for several policies, including our use of force policy, our de-escalation policy and unprofessional conduct," Kraus said at the presser. His record will show a dishonorable discharge for leaving the department. He has been with them since 2018.
Bodycam footage obtained by the Dallas Morning News shows Dean walking around the back of Jefferson’s home. He shines a flashlight into a dark room through a window and yells, "Put your hands up! Show me your hands! Show me —" before quickly firing through the window.
“The officer did not announce that he was a police officer prior to shooting,” Lt. Brandon O'Neil, a spokesman for the department, said at a separate news conference on Sunday. Additionally, the police did not park in front of the home — rather, they parked down the street — or put on any sirens.
Kraus said that Dean was not cooperative with police.
“He resigned before his opportunity to be cooperative,” Kraus said, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Investigators initially claimed there was a weapon inside the home, and video released by police shows what appears to be two guns. However, everything around the firearms are blurred out. Police have not said if any gun allegedly found in the home was related to the shooting.
Lee Merritt, an attorney for both Jefferson's family and the family of Botham Jean, an unarmed black man who was shot dead in his home by an off-duty officer in Dallas, criticized that move to CNN, stating that police were possibly attempting to villainize Jefferson. He said he thinks they could be "turning her into a suspect, a silhouette or threat."
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price wrote in an open letter following the shooting: "A gun is irrelevant. Atatiana was in her own home, caring for her 8-year-old nephew. She was a victim. And she was taken from her family in circumstances that are truly unthinkable."
Jefferson graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana where she studied biochemistry. She was working in pharmaceutical equipment sales when she died while contemplating going to medical school.
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