A black Texas woman shot dead by a police officer in her own home while playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew was concerned over noises coming from her backyard and had pulled out a handgun as officers crept up to her back windows without announcing their presence, according to an arrest warrant in the case.
Aaron Dean, 34, was charged with murder Monday in the death of Atatiana Jefferson, 28. Jefferson’s neighbor, James Smith, had called a non-emergency number shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday 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.
Dean's arrest warrant, obtained by Oxygen.com, indicates Fort Worth police responded to the situation as an open structure call, meaning a possible break-in, rather than as a wellness check. Within minutes of officers arriving on scene, Dean shot Jefferson through a window as she stood inside her home.
Jefferson and her 8-year-old nephew were playing video games in her back bedroom when Dean and another officer approached her home, according to the warrant, which also notes that the officers never announced that they were police.
Jefferson heard noises in her backyard and grew concerned, her nephew later told police. He said his aunt “took her handgun from her purse" and "pointed it toward the window" before being hit with gunfire.
Jefferson “yelled out in pain, and fell to the ground,” the boy told police.
The second officer on scene said she only saw Jefferson’s face through the window when Dean shot her. It’s not clear if Dean even saw the gun because, as the warrant noted, he declined to be interviewed. He said he would give a written statement at a later time. He resigned before he could be fired.
The police department was quick to note that Jefferson had the right to be holding a gun in her own home.
“It makes sense she would have a gun if she felt threatened or if there was someone in the backyard,” Fort Worth Police Interim Chief Ed Kraus told reporters at a Tuesday press conference.
Dean’s bail was set at $200,000 and he bonded out by Monday night, NBC in Dallas Forth-Worth reported.
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 at the time of her death and reportedly had been contemplating going to medical school.
Her death comes weeks after former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was convicted of murdering 26-year-old Botham Jean in his apartment after mistaking it for her own. She was sentenced to 10 years.
Jefferson’s father, Marquis Jefferson, referenced the Botham Jean case and the instantly famous hug that Jean's brother gave Guyger in the courtroom, telling CBS News, "I don't want no hug. That's my one and only daughter. I'll never forget that.”
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