A former Fort Worth police officer accused of fatally shooting a woman inside her home in October has been indicted for murder.
A Tarrant County grand jury indicted Aaron Dean Friday morning. A trial date has not yet been announced.
At a press conference Friday, Jefferson's family called news of the indictment a "relief."
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When I heard it, it was definitely surreal because it was kind of facing the fact that this is the reality we are having to face at this moment," Ashley Carr, Jefferson's sister said.
Atatiana Jefferson’s mother also spoke with reporters via Skype for the first time. Hospitalized with congestive heart failure, Yolanda Carr became emotional recalling the moment she heard Dean had been indicted.
“Even though I know we have a long way to go, at least we got the charge on him that he murdered my baby,” Carr said.
She became emotional while talking about missing her daughter during the holidays. " She won’t be home for Christmas," said Carr.
Dean was called to Atatiana Jefferson's home at about 2:30 a.m. Oct. 12 for a welfare check after a neighbor called a non-emergency number to report her front door had been open for some time and that he was concerned.
Dean and another officer answered the call, now classified as an open structure call, and began searching the outside of the house. An open structure call could bring a different level of response from police if they believe the structure is open as the result of criminal activity as opposed to responding to a welfare check where someone may be inside needing assistance.
Jefferson, who had no idea the police had been called or were outside her home, was inside playing video games with her nephew when they heard a noise in the back yard. Jefferson grabbed a handgun from her purse and walked toward a window. That's where Dean, who had entered her back yard investigating the call, ordered her to put her hands up before firing a single, fatal round through her window.
Body camera video released by the Fort Worth Police Department shows the officer walking around outside the house with a flashlight. He then stops, points his flashlight at a window and then draws his gun after seeing a person watching him from inside the house.
The officer is heard commanding, "Put your hands up, show me your hands," before he fired his weapon once.
Dean later resigned from the department. Then-interim Chief of Police Ed Kraus said at the time that had Dean not resigned, he'd have been terminated and that there was "absolutely no excuse" for shooting the woman.
Regarding Jefferson being armed, Kraus said, "it makes sense that she would have a gun if she felt that she was being threatened or that there was someone in the back yard."
Texas' castle doctrine law, on the books since 2007, is similar to many "stand your ground" laws and gives residents a strong legal defense to the use of deadly force in their homes if they perceive a threat.
Jefferson's family said Dean was too quick to open fire and never announced he was on her property before shooting her.