UPDATED: 8:27 p.m. EDT —
The white former police officer who killed an innocent Black woman while she was in her Texas home has been charged with murder. The criminal charges came nearly three full days after then-Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean shot through Atatiana Jefferson‘s window and killed her early Saturday morning.
Jefferson’s family lawyer, civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt, announced Dean’s arrest Monday evening.
Dean’s mugshot was released soon afterward.
Local reporter David Lee tweeted that Dean was being held on a $200,000 bond.
The arrest came hours after Dean tendered his resignation and quit the police force before Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Krause said he planned to fire the trigger-happy cop. Krause also said that Dean was not being cooperative with police. Merritt has demanded that the Fort Worth Police Department recuse itself from any investigation, citing multiple past instances of corruption and brutality on the force that he said desderved “accountability.”
The police officer who shot and killed an unarmed Black woman in her own home in Texas this weekend has resigned, according to multiple reports. Aaron Dean, who responded to home over a wellness check request before shooting and killing Atatiana Jefferson, quit working for the Fort Worth Police Department hours before it was expected that he would be fired.
However, one thing that seemed to be missed in the announcement was how Dean still managed to avoid being arrested.
An image purportedly of Dean emerged on social media shortly after his name was announced.
Police Chief Ed Kraus said during the press conference that Dean “resigned before his opportunity to cooperate.” Kraus said he planned to fire Dean before finding out he quit. It was unclear why Krause did not fire him on Saturday or Sunday. Dean was apparently never even interviewed about the shooting before being placed on paid administrative leave.
Earlier in the day, Jefferson’s family and their lawyer had been demanding that the officer be fired and that the Fort Worth Police Department recuse itself from the investigation.
Prior to announcing the officer’s name the only information the Fort Worth Police Department provided was that he is “a white male who has been with the department since April of 2018.” He was also placed on paid leave pending an investigation.
However, one piece of information people wanted to know aside from his name is whether he would be fired. In a comparably tragic case of police recklessness, Amber Guyger was given similar treatment after she shot and killed Botham Jean in his own home last year. After being shielded from the public and afforded the time to scrub her social media (although not well enough) in an attempt to delete racist posts, Guyger was finally terminated nearly three weeks after she killed Jean.
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.”
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.