Law & the Courts

Fort Worth Cop Who Fatally Shot Woman In Her Own Home Charged With Murder

Fort Worth Police Department officer Aaron York Dean is seen in a booking photo at the Tarrant County Jail in Fort Worth, TX. (Tarrant County Jail/Handout via Reuters)

The Fort Worth, Texas police officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson while she was in her own home with her nephew was charged on Monday with murder.

Aaron Dean, 34, was taken into custody on Monday but was released the same day from Tarrant County Jail after posting $200,000 bail.

Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus added that Dean resigned from the Fort Worth police force before Kraus could fire him. His record will state he was dishonorably discharged.

Dean was sent to Jefferson’s house after a neighbor called a non-emergency police line at 2:23am to say that the doors of the house had been open for several hours and the lights were on.

Jefferson, who had moved home to take care of her mother, had been playing video games with her eight-year-old nephew. Dean failed to identify himself as a police officer and shouted “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” as he shone a light into her bedroom window before killing her with one shot. Her nephew was in the room at the time.

The Fort Worth police department is still “working diligently to complete the criminal and administrative investigations,” spokesman Sgt. Chris Daniels said.

“I remember Lee talking about them not liking to arrest cops, so they did that,” Jefferson’s brother, Adarius Carr, said. “That’s a huge step for us. They are willing to understand this is serious and we mean it. Justice is important to us.”

“I get it,” Kraus said of the furor the release of the police body camera footage of the incident has sparked. “Nobody looked at that video and said there was any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately.”

The family’s attorney, Lee Merritt, has argued that the tragedy is the result of systematic disfunction at the department.

“I want to go ahead and dispel the myth that this is somehow a one-off — that this was just a bad-luck incident from an otherwise sound department,” he said. “The Fort Worth Police Department is on pace to be one of the deadliest police departments in the United States.”

The department has submitted the case to the FBI as possibly involving a civil rights violation, in which case federal authorities will investigate. Fort Worth has seen six fatal police shootings since the beginning of the summer.

Dean’s murder charge comes two weeks after white former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced to ten years in prison for the murder of Botham Jean, who was black, in his own home last year.

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