The police officer who shot a Texas woman while she was inside her own Fort Worth home babysitting her young nephew over the weekend has resigned from his post.
What began as a safety check on Atatiana Jefferson, 28, ultimately resulted in her being shot dead by the police. Jefferson’s neighbor, James Smith, said he called a non-emergency number for a welfare check on Jefferson. He knew she was at home playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew, but the front door was open 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.
The officer who pulled the trigger, Aaron Dean, has now resigned, Fort Worth interim police chief Ed Kraus said during a Monday news conference. Initially, Dean was put on administrative leave. He had been with the department for about a year.
"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.
Dean could still faces criminal charges. While police are investigating the shooting on their own, Jefferson's family is calling for an outside investigation as well.
"This man murdered someone. He should be arrested," Darius Carr, Jefferson's brother, told reporters Monday, NBC News reports.
Police arrived at Jefferson’s home a little before 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, where they found Jefferson's front door open, the Fort Worth Police Department said in a statement.
“Responding officers searched the perimeter of the house and observed a person standing inside the residence near a window. Perceiving a threat, the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot, striking the person inside the residence,” they wrote.
Jefferson was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bodycam footage obtained by the Dallas Morning News shows an officer 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 —" while shooting 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.
O'Neil confirmed that the 8-year-old nephew was in the home at the time of the shooting.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price called the shooting unjustified at Monday’s press conference.
"I'm so sorry. On behalf of the entire city of Fort Worth, I'm sorry," Price told reporters and the community. "To Atatiana's family, it's unacceptable. There is nothing that can justify what happened on Saturday morning. Nothing."
Investigators claim 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, expressed worry to CNN that police were villianizing the grad student. He said he thinks they could be "turning her into a suspect, a silhouette or threat."
He tweeted that Jefferson heard a noise from her backyard and went to investigate when she was shot.
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.
The shooting has already prompted at least one protest, according to Fox4News in Dallas Fort-Worth, as well as outrage across the nation.
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