A Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot a woman in her home while she played video games with her 8-year-old nephew resigned from the force the morning of Oct. 14, and was arrested and booked in county jail that evening on $200,000 bail.
Chief Ed Krauss said Aaron Dean, who is White, would have been fired and is considered dishonorably discharged from the department, the interim police chief said during a conference Oct. 14, before the arrest. Krauss said the U.S. Justice Department will examine the case for possible civil rights violations.
Atatiana "Tay" Jefferson, 28, was shot through her bedroom window early Oct. 12 by an officer responding to a call from a neighbor who was concerned because her doors were open.
Hours before Krauss’ press conference, family members held their news conference demanding that the officer be fired and criminally charged. Ashley Carr said her sister was killed by the officer's "reckless act," and the federal government should take over the investigation.
"There is simply no justification for his actions," she said. "We demand justice for Atatiana through an independent and thorough investigation."
Jefferson's brother, Adarius Carr, said: "This man murdered someone. He should be arrested."
Investigators were scheduled to interview the officer, police Lt. Brandon O’Neil said. Police released audio of a neighbor's call to a nonemergency phone number that sent police to the home.
Jefferson worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative. The officer had served on the force for 18 months. The shooting took place less than two weeks after former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was convicted of murdering Botham Jean, a Black man shot in 2018 as he ate ice cream in his home.
S. Lee Merritt, a lawyer for Jefferson's family, said police not only violated Jefferson's rights but also made "common sense" mistakes. He called release of a photo of a gun found in the bedroom "obscene," saying no connection had been made between the gun and the shooting.
“Why this man is not in handcuffs is a source of continued agitation for this family and for this community,” Merritt said
Mayor Betsy Price, speaking before Krauss, agreed that the gun found in Jefferson's home was "irrelevant."
"Atatiana was a victim ... unjustly taken from her family," Price said.
Merritt said the victim's nephew told him the duo had been up late playing "Halo" – with the doors open to enjoy the cool fall breeze – when they heard noise outside her bedroom window.
"They looked at each other and listened more intently when they heard it again," Merritt said in a social media post. "Someone was outside."
Merritt said the nephew described how his aunt went to the window to see who was there.
"Suddenly a man's voice was screaming something he couldn't make out, and then 'bang,' " Merritt said. Jefferson fell to the floor. Merritt said he didn't ask the child what he saw next because he didn't want him "to have to relive that."
"I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m a little afraid when I’m honest," Merritt said. "I hate this happened to (the nephew). I hate it happened to Tay and her beautiful family. This has to stop now. Enough."
O'Neil said neighbor James Smith called police at 2:23 a.m. Oct. 12, telling the dispatcher it was "not normal" for his neighbors to have the doors open and lights on at that hour.
Two officers arrived six minutes later. They did not park in front of the house, O'Neil said. Body camera video released by police shows officers, armed with guns and flashlights, circling the home. An officer stops at a window.
The video ends with an officer shouting, "Put your hands up, show me your hands" before the sound of one gunshot. Jefferson was killed with a bullet fired through her bedroom window.
O'Neil confirmed what the video appeared to show – that the officer never identified himself as police. He also confirmed that Jefferson's nephew was in the room.
Activist Cory Hughes said the community wanted more than a suspension for the officer.
"What we are looking for is for this officer not only to be fired but we are demanding that this officer be charged as well, like the criminal that he is," Hughes said. "This life mattered. This family matters."