A white police officer killed an unarmed Black person who was only guilty of being home in Texas. Sound familiar?
This time the deadly shooting took place in Fort Worth early Saturday morning after an officer responded to a home because a concerned neighbor requested a wellness check. Atatiana Jefferson died about 2:30 a.m. local time, authorities said after reviewing the officer’s bodycam footage. The Fort Worth Police Department declined to identify the officer and would only describe him as “a white male who has been with the department since April of 2018.” He was placed on administrative leave, but there were no immediate reports of him being fired.
Jefferson was reportedly shot within four seconds of the officer issuing verbal commands to her.
The shooting came just about two weeks after a jury found former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger guilty of murder for giving the same type of lethal treatment to Botham Jean, who she shot in his own home after she purportedly confused his apartment for her own. The similarities between the two cases were striking and was the latest incident of a police officer in Texas being too quick on the draw in circumstances that didn’t require any gunplay at all.
Fort Worth is about 32 miles away from Dallas. Both cities have Black police chiefs.
Saturday morning’s shooting revived the issue of implicit racial bias within police departments.
“Ain’t no ‘perceived threat’ — unless it’s black folk,” local Pastor Michael Bell said Saturday. “Just our presence — we’re the threat.”
Not much information has been reported about Jefferson, who was 28 when she was killed. According to her Facebook and LinkedIn pages, she worked at and attended the historically Black college Xavier University of Lousiana.
If there was any solace to the situation, it was that Guyger’s conviction for a similarly egregious killing theoretically set a precedent for such cases. However, the offending officer was still on the Fort Worth Police Department payroll as of Saturday evening. And all of that was assuming the officer who killed Jefferson will ultimately be charged with murder. Guyger got off with a lenient sentence of 10 years.
The neighbor who called the non-emergency police number in Fort Worth said he only reached out to police because he found it curious that her lights were on and her door was open at such a late hour. James Smith said he was concerned because he said he knew Jefferson’s young nephew was there with her. But now, Smith said he regretted contacting law enforcement about Jefferson, who he called his friend.
“I’m shaken. I’m mad. I’m upset. And I feel it’s partly my fault,” Smith told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “If I had never dialed the police department, she’d still be alive.”
Fort Worth police released the officer’s bodycam footage. Please view it at your own discretion below.