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Atatiana Jefferson's Family React to Officer's Arrest

Family wants change after "system break-down" they say led to shooting

The family of Atatiana Jefferson say the arrest of the officer who shot and killed their sister while responding to a welfare call was reassuring but believe the ordeal doesn't end with the punishment of one rookie police officer.

Monday, Fort Worth police arrested Aaron Dean and charged him with murder hours after he resigned his commission as a police officer with their department. The murder case now goes to the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office and likely a grand jury.

Tuesday, Jefferson's family said they believe was a system break-down that lead to her death.

"This rookie cop is not going to be the scapegoat for what happened," said Jefferson's brother Adarius Carr. "Yes, he is going to take his punishment, but the system failed him, whoever senior was with him, whoever sent him failed him. The training failed."

Dean was responding to a call made to the department's non-emergency line where a neighbor said he noticed the door was open for several hours and found it unusual.

Dean arrived at the home on East Allen Avenue at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday. In a short clip of the body camera footage released by police, Dean walks past an open front door, open side door and enters the backyard. When he approaches a window, he shouts, "Put your hands up, show me your hands."

From the start of the first command, it takes the officer one second to fire a fatal shot through the window.

The family said they want more information from police – including the body camera footage of the other officer at the scene. The family also questions how a neighbor's welfare call about open doors at the house on East Allen Avenue was dispatched as an open structure call and why responding officers entered Jefferson's backyard without identifying themselves as police.

"What exactly was the breakdown from the entire policing community here not just this one officer? This one officer obviously did something terrible and tragic, but this was a break down from the top to the bottom," said the family's attorney Lee Merritt.

"None of it makes sense," said Carr. "There's no way someone is taught to go past open doors, or go through backyards, none of that makes sense to me."

"We understand there is a lot more road to cover before we get to justice," said Merritt. "Justice for this family means a murder conviction and an appropriate sentence."

He compared this case to the Amber Guyger case in Dallas County. Guyger was convicted of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison by a jury in the murder of Botham Jean.

"A sentence will be determined by a jury, but it should certainly fit the crime. They will never get their sister back," said Merritt.

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