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Murder warrant for Fort Worth officer says woman he killed was holding gun in her home

Fort Worth Star-Telegram logoFort Worth Star-Telegram 10/15/2019 By Mitch Mitchell, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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Video by Reuters

FORT WORTH, Texas — The murder arrest warrant for a white officer who shot and killed a black woman on Saturday says that the victim was holding a gun after she heard noises outside her window.

A witness, the woman’s 8-year-old nephew, told a police investigator that after Atatiana Jefferson heard noises outside her window and thought there might be a prowler outside, she reached into her purse, grabbed a handgun and pointed it toward the window, the warrant said.

That’s when Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean shot Jefferson through the window and she fell to the ground, the warrant said.

Officers called for emergency medical help who pronounced Jefferson dead when they arrived, according to the warrant. Officers administered first aid but were unsuccessful, the warrant said.

Officer L. Darch said that she and Dean were in the backyard standing near a window when Dean shot Jefferson. Darch said she could only see Jefferson’s face at that time, the warrant said. According to the warrant, the officers never announced their presence.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said on Monday that the gun was irrelevant to the investigation. In Texas, homeowners have a right to be armed on their own property, Price said.

a close up of a man and a woman smiling for the camera: Atatiana Jefferson, Aaron Dean

Atatiana Jefferson, Aaron Dean
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The two officers responding to a neighbor’s call about open doors at the home said they saw the front doors open, but the storm doors were closed. The family’s vehicles were in the driveway.

The arrest on Monday of one of their own was met by officers in Fort Worth with thanks, according to Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus.

Kraus likened the day-to-day work police officers do every day to building an ant hill, and characterized the shooting of a woman inside her home during a welfare check as though someone had come and washed all that work away.

“You have to start all over,” Kraus said Tuesday.

Dean, 34, of Arlington, resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department on Monday morning.

Dean was arrested at about 6 p.m. Monday, police said at a news conference Monday night. He was booked in the Tarrant County Jail and released on bail later Monday night, according to records.

Patrol officers determined how to respond to the open door call they received from dispatch on Saturday, according to Kraus. If the officers perceived that the call was one of a more criminal nature, they would respond one way, Kraus said. However, if the officers approaching thought the open door on Allen Avenue was simply an oversight, they would respond a different way.

Kraus left the stage after speaking about five minutes Tuesday morning, seemingly overcome with emotion during the press conference.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Kraus identified Dean — who had served about 18 months with the department — as the officer who shot Jefferson. Kraus said he was going to fire Dean had he not resigned Monday morning.

The FBI has been briefed to investigate possible civil rights violations, he said.

Kraus said his intention was to fire the officer for violating policies, including the use-of-force policy.

Kraus said Dean has not cooperated with the investigation and has not answered questions from investigators.

Dean resigned in a one-sentence letter, according to the Associated Press. The letter said: “Effective immediately I am tendering my resignation from the Fort Worth Police Department.” The letter was released by the state’s largest police union, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas.

The group’s executive director, Charley Wilkison, said an attorney will be provided for Dean with financial support from the union.

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©2019 Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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