Crime

Ex-Fort Worth Police Officer Indicted on Murder Charge in Shooting of Atatiana Jefferson

Footage released by the department shows Aaron Dean raising his gun.
Footage released by the department shows Aaron Dean raising his gun. Fort Worth Police Department
Aaron Dean, the former Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed a black woman in her home, was indicted by a grand jury for murder on Friday morning.

Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew in October when a neighbor called a non-emergency police hotline after noticing the home's front door was open. Dean responded, and shot and killed Jefferson after she came to the window to investigate.

The family's attorney, S. Lee Merritt, wrote on Twitter following the indictment, "Atatiana’s family is relieved but remain cautious that a conviction and appropriate sentence is still a long way away."

Dean has posted a $200,000 bond and remains free while awaiting trial.

Body cam footage of the incident released by the Fort Worth Police Department showed Dean walking around to the back of the home before seeing Jefferson approach the window. He shouted "Put your hands up! Show me your hands!" before immediately shooting through the window. In the video, Dean never identifies himself as a cop.

According to Dean's arrest warrant, Jefferson had taken a handgun from her purse and pointed it to the window before Dean shot her.

Merritt has accused the Fort Worth police department of having a "brutal culture" in need of reform. In a press conference following the killing, he said, “The Fort Worth Police Department is on pace to be one of the deadliest police departments in the United States.”

Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus has told reporters that he's referred the case to the FBI for potential civil rights violations.

Jefferson's killing follows on the heels of the murder of Botham Jean in his home by former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger. Her criminal case garnered national attention, and she was sentenced to 10 years in prison in October.
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Lucas Manfield is an editorial fellow at the Observer. He's a former software developer and a recent graduate of Columbia Journalism School.
Contact: Lucas Manfield