Fort Worth

FW City Officials Say Many Demands From Coalition Face Legal Conflicts

City officials in Fort Worth are responding to a list of demands set by a coalition on oversight after a woman was shot and killed in her home by a city police officer.

Atatiana Jefferson, 28, died last Saturday morning after police say now-former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean, 34, shot Jefferson through her home window while responding to an open-structure call.

Dean has since resigned and been charged with murder but this week, advocates from the community turned to the city demanding change. The Tarrant County Coalition for Community Oversight presented a set of 11 demands to the City Council in response to the shooting.

The coalition insisted the demands must be met by 5 p.m. Friday, with at least a 'commitment' on some of them.

However, city leaders say many of the demands have technical and legal conflicts. This includes the firing of Fort Worth city manager David Cooke and assistant city manager Jay Chapa and the release of full and unedited body camera footage from all of the officers on the scene last Saturday.

"Some of the video includes inside the house and deceased victim. Those are some of the things, under the law, we cannot release. So, what has been released is what we are allowed to release under state law," City Attorney Sarah Fullenwider said.

The group also asked for written policy that full unedited body camera footage of police shootings be publicly released within 24 hours and the creation of alternative, non-police response teams to address welfare checks, mental health calls, and non-critical instances.

Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus cited safety concerns over the demand of releasing the names of every officer on the scene at the time of Jefferson's death, adding Dean's family members have received threats since the shooting.

"If our officers don't feel like they are protected or backed up or can do their job safely, then the odds are they won't do their job," Chief Kraus said. "They do a lot of good work every day and I think they deserve a little bit of protection."

The group, which declined an on-camera interview with NBC 5 on Friday, confirms Fort Worth officials requested a meeting with them on Thursday to negotiate the demands.

However, they declined that request.

"In pursuit of justice for Atatiana Jefferson, and to prevent further tragedies as a result of inequitable policing in Fort Worth, the Tarrant County Coalition for Community Oversight presented city leaders and elected officials a set of demands Tuesday night at the City Council meeting. We expect the City of Fort Worth to comply with these demands by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 18, 2019," the group said in a press release.

Officials say while many of the demands had legal conflicts, this does not mean they were not open to negotiate possible agreements. 

"We are moving toward civilian oversight," said Assistant City Manager Jay Chapa. "The city council has already approved the recommendation to move forward."

However, he said there were currently some disagreements with the coalition on exactly how that oversight would be executed.

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