UPDATED: 3:51 p.m. EDT —
The officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson in her own home over the weekend has been identified. Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus said Aaron Dean was the name of the officer who fired the fatal shot through Jefferson’s bedroom window while she was playing a video game with her young nephew.
However, Dean tendered his resignation from the police force earlier in the day and was not fired, something Krause told reporters he planned to do. To add insult to literal injury, Dean has still not faced any criminal charges, let alone an arrest for the killing of the innocent 28-year-old Black woman.
Krause told reporters on Monday that Dean “resigned before his opportunity to cooperate.”
It was unclear why Krause did not fire Dean on Saturday or Sunday since the police chief said Monday that the now-former officer was going to be terminated “for violations of several policies.” It was also unclear if the chief was referring to the shooting early Saturday morning or something else when he said Dean violated those unspecified policies. Krause also said on Monday that
People have been outraged over the shooting of Atatiana Jefferson in her own home by the Fort Worth Police Department. Now it appears the police were already giving the still-unnamed officer the Amber Guyger treatment by not publicly identifying him. Allegedly, the cop is getting time to clean up his social media, which is what Guyger did quickly after killing Botham Jean in his own home last year.
Activist Shaun King made the same assertion on Twitter.
“We’ve been told that the @FortWorthPD has been deliberately hiding the name of the officer who murdered #AtatianaJefferson so that he can wipe all of his social media clean,” he tweeted on Sunday. “Not one single justifiable reason exists for hiding his identity.”
According to Lee Merrit, the attorney for the Jean and Jefferson families, Guyger was deleting posts after the shooting when she should have been getting interrogated. During Guyger’s trial, Merritt addressed that on Twitter.
“Lest we be fooled by the pretty blue dresses and blond blowout, here is a glimpse into the mind of #AmberGuyger. She was busy deleting these post when she should have been being interrogated,” he tweeted last month. “We were able to screen grab these before she could get to them. Each has been verified.”
On early Saturday morning, an officer responded because a concerned neighbor requested a wellness check. Jefferson died about 2:30 a.m. local time after the officer killed her in her own home by shooting his gun through a window. Jefferson was reportedly playing video games with her nephew.
In a subsequent press release announcing the shooting, Fort Worth police claimed the officer was “Perceiving a threat” at the time. The press release also said that officers saw “a firearm” when they entered Jefferson’s home and found her. The Fort Worth Police Department then reportedly released an image of that firearm, even though there was no claim of that gun being used or even wielded during the one-sided encounter. Texas is a state with laws that permit citizens to openly carry guns.
Jefferson was reportedly shot within four seconds of the officer arriving.
According to local news outlet WFAA, police held a press conference Sunday and offered no explanation for why they “released images of a gun in Jefferson’s bedroom, what those images were intended to convey, or what may have prompted the officer to fire his weapon.”
Merritt started a GoFundMe page to help pay for the 28-year-old’s funeral and related costs. According to her Facebook and LinkedIn pages, she worked at and attended the historically Black college Xavier University of Louisiana.
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.
Our condolences go out to everyone affected by this tragedy.