On Monday, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price opened a press conference with an apology:
“On behalf of the entire city of Fort Worth, I’m sorry. To [Atatiana’s] family: It’s unacceptable; there’s nothing that could justify what happened on Saturday morning. Nothing,” Price said.
She was referring to an incident with Fort Worth police over the weekend. Officers were responding to a request for a welfare check when they began searching around the house where Atatiana Jefferson and her 8-year-old nephew had stayed up late playing video games. Jefferson’s neighbor had noticed that Jefferson’s front door had been open for hours, which was unusual. The neighbor called a non-emergency number to ask officers to check on her.
Body camera video shows police officers entering the backyard. Hearing noises outside, Jefferson went to a back bedroom window to investigate. That’s when police officer Aaron Dean shot her through the window, killing her as her nephew watched.
Dean has since resigned, and has been charged with murder. Had he not resigned, Fort Worth’s Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said in a press conference that Dean would have been fired. Kraus said he understands the outrage in the community.
“I get it. We’re trying to train our officers better, we’re trying to shore up our policies and we’re trying to ensure that they act and react as the citizens intend them to – that they act and react with a servant’s heart instead of a warrior’s heart,” Kraus said.
City leaders say they’re hiring outside experts to review Fort Worth Police Department policies and training practices after the shooting. The city is also creating a new office to monitor the police force. The police department has asked the FBI to look into the case for possible civil rights violations.
But for Atatiana Jefferson’s family, it’s not enough. Adarius Carr is her brother.
“Fort Worth PD cannot investigate themselves. This man murdered someone. He should be arrested,” Carr told reporters during a news conference Monday.
Hours later, police arrested Dean and charged him with murder. Lee Merritt, a family attorney, said during the same news conference that the family was relieved. But he says the city has a lot of work to do to change what he called “a brutal culture of policing.”