US cop kills woman in her own home

Ms Atatiana Jefferson was fatally shot by Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean while she was at home playing video games last Saturday.
Ms Atatiana Jefferson was fatally shot by Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean while she was at home playing video games last Saturday.

FORT WORTH • A former Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot a woman while she was at home playing video games at the weekend was arrested and charged with murder on Monday, the latest development in a case that has sparked national outrage and renewed demands for police accountability.

The officer, Aaron Dean, who is white, resigned earlier on Monday, hours before the police chief had planned to fire him amid the growing anger and frustration in the community that Ms Atatiana Jefferson had become yet another black person killed by the police, this time in the safety of her own home.

Police officers were responding to a call from a concerned neighbour when Ms Jefferson, 28, was shot through her bedroom window.

The case resulted in a rare murder charge against a police officer only hours after interim Fort Worth police chief Ed Kraus said the department was conducting a criminal investigation into the officer's actions and had reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about starting a civil rights probe.

"I get it," Mr Kraus said of the widespread public anger that followed the release of a body-camera video in the case. It showed Ms Jefferson had been given no warning that it was a police officer who had crept into her backyard, shone a light into her bedroom window and shouted "Put your hands up! Show me your hands!" immediately before firing a single fatal shot.

The unusual and rapid developments, which followed a similar case in nearby Dallas where a black man was shot by an off-duty police officer in his own apartment, highlighted longstanding tensions in Fort Worth, where residents have frequently complained about abuse at the hands of the police. Since June, Fort Worth officers have shot and killed six people.

Ms Jefferson had been playing video games with her eight-year-old nephew in the early hours of Saturday morning when a neighbour called a police non-emergency line at 2.23am, saying he was concerned that the front and side doors of Jefferson's house had been open for several hours.

 

The authorities said Dean did not identify himself as a cop before firing the fatal shot through the window. Ms Jefferson died in her bedroom after officers tried to provide medical assistance, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner's office.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2019, with the headline 'US cop kills woman in her own home'. Print Edition | Subscribe