Fort Worth

Family Demands Outside Investigation of Fort Worth Police Shooting

Neighbors and relatives of the 28-year-old woman killed Saturday by a Fort Worth police officer demanded an outside investigation Monday.

Atatiana Jefferson was inside her home on Allen Avenue when she was shot through a window by an officer responding to a welfare check call from a neighbor.

"She was a smart, ambitious, kind person with a nurturing spirit," said Ashley Carr, the victim's sister.

Her relatives said Jefferson was watching her 8-year-old nephew at the house. Her sister Amber Carr said it was the nephew who told his mother what happened afterward.

"The first thing he told me was he was sad. And I asked why he was sad. And he told me because the police had killed, had shot his aunt," she said.

Acting Fort Worth police Chief Ed Kraus said 34-year-old officer Aaron Dean resigned Monday before he could be fired. Dean was charged with murder Monday night.

"They need to bring in an outside agency. They need to make sure this officer is treated like any other criminal suspect in our criminal justice system," said Adarius Carr, the victim's brother.

The family's lawyer, Lee Merritt, said the Fort Worth Police Department's handling of the case so far gives the family reason for concern.

"Why this man is not in handcuffs right now is a source of continued agitation for this family," Merritt said.

The officer's body camera video that was released by police Saturday was edited to stop immediately after the shooting. But images of a gun that was found in the house were added.

"They've already begun to lay out their defense. They obviously have a dog in the fight or they wouldn't have released the picture of the firearm to the public. So they're trying to make a case," Merritt said. "I would love to hear the rest of the conversation from the other officers because this was completely uncalled for and there probably was at least one officer there with some common sense to chastise this rookie."

Merritt said there have been 10 officer-involved shootings in Fort Worth in the last six months, seven of them fatal.

After other controversial Fort Worth police incidents, a task force recommended a review board and independent monitor. Kraus said the measures were still in the works, but have not yet been implemented.

"We're demanding justice," Fort Worth activist Cory Hughes said. "We're demanding that the mayor and city officials don't sweep this under the rug. We're not going to allow them to."

At a press conference Monday, Kraus said the case would be presented to the FBI to review if there were any civil rights violations. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price joined Kraus on Monday and urged the people of Fort Worth to wrap Jefferson's family with love and prayers.

Bob Ray Sanders, former co-chair of the Fort Worth Race & Culture Task Force, said the city had a long way to go. He said he still felt anger and hurt from the weekend shooting, but he felt the message was promising.

"Ed Kraus, the [interim] police chief, was our liaison with the police department when we were going through the process of a task force. He heard everything we heard. He heard all of our reactions to things we reacted to," Sanders said. "Today, I could tell he learned from that interaction with the task force we brought in. I'm feeling good right now, although I'm still hurt -- because there's an innocent woman who should still be among us."

However, other leaders in the community said what they heard was not enough. Echoing Jefferson's family, Pastor Kyev Tatum with the New Mount Rose Baptist Church said he thought the officer involved should be arrested.

"For him to simply give up and move on is unacceptable," Tatum said. "We preach love, but also serve a God of justice. And we're praying to our God that he would allow justice to roll down like waters and righteous like a mighty stream."

Tatum said there's a cultural disconnect between police and certain communities in Fort Worth.

"It's relational. Policing is relational. It's not about driving rough and kicking butt. It's about knowing your neighbor," he said.

Tatum said one particular photo welcoming new officers to the Fort Worth Police Department was bothersome. It appeared that no black officers were in the picture.

"And the police department is proud of this picture," he said. "So what does that say to those of us who are in this neighborhood?"

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