Texas Cop Fatally Shoots Black Woman In Her Own Home During Welfare Check, Police Say

Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was standing near a bedroom window when the white Fort Worth police officer opened fire from outside.
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A Fort Worth , Texas, police officer fatally shot a black woman in her own home early Saturday while responding to a neighbor鈥檚 request for a welfare check on the residence, authorities said.

Police identified the officer responsible for killing Atatiana Jefferson, 28, as a 鈥渨hite male who has been with the department since April of 2018.鈥 His name has not yet been released. He has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, and is scheduled to be interviewed Monday by the Major Case Unit, police said.

Jefferson was shot through a window around 2:30 a.m. as officers responded to a non-emergency call from neighbor James Smith who said the front door of the home was open with the lights on, the Fort Worth Police Department said in a statement and press conference on Sunday evening.

鈥淭he officer observed a person through a rear window in the house and fired a shot at that person,鈥 Police Chief Edwin Kraus told reporters. 鈥淭he officer did not announce that he was a police officer prior to shooting. What the officer observed and why he did not announce 鈥榩olice鈥 will be addressed as the investigation continues.鈥

Officers then went inside and provided emergency medical care to Jefferson, but she was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. The statement said Jefferson鈥檚 8-year-old nephew was inside the room at the time of the shooting.

Police released video from a body camera worn by the officer who fired the shot, which shows him approaching the front of the house and peering inside. The footage shows storm doors were closed, but two main doors behind them were open. Lights inside the house were on, and at least one car was parked in the driveway.

The officer can be seen entering the backyard, turning to the left and shining a flashlight through a window. He suddenly grabs for his gun, points it at the window and shouts, 鈥淧ut your hands up! Show me your hands!鈥 before immediately opening fire.

Body camera footage shows a Fort Worth police officer appearing to aim a gun into the house of Atatiana Jefferson, who was shot and killed by police in her own home Saturday.
Body camera footage shows a Fort Worth police officer appearing to aim a gun into the house of Atatiana Jefferson, who was shot and killed by police in her own home Saturday.
Fort Worth Police Department

Police did not release any additional body camera footage, save for two still frames appearing to show a firearm the officers found inside the home. It鈥檚 unclear whether Jefferson had been holding the gun at the time she was shot.

Earlier Sunday, the police department sent HuffPost a statement and a roughly minute-long body camera video, but did not respond to questions about whether officers ever knocked on Jefferson鈥檚 door.

Jefferson was living in the house to help take care of her mother, who has a medical condition, according to Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney representing the victim鈥檚 family.

She was playing video games with her nephew early Saturday when they heard a noise in the backyard, Merritt said. When Jefferson went to the window to investigate, she was shot, he said.

鈥淭he hardest part about it is I spoke with an 8-year-old who explained what it was like inside of the house,鈥 Merritt told reporters Saturday.

Minutes before police showed up to Jefferson鈥檚 home, Smith said he called the department鈥檚 non-emergency phone number to report that the doors to the house were ajar and the lights were on. He said he was concerned about Jefferson鈥檚 mother, knowing she has health issues.

鈥淚鈥檓 shaken. I鈥檓 mad. I鈥檓 upset. And I feel it鈥檚 partly my fault,鈥 Smith told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. 鈥淚f I had never dialed the police department, she鈥檇 still be alive.鈥

Kraus said Sunday that Jefferson鈥檚 death has 鈥渕ajor ramifications for all involved, especially鈥 Jefferson鈥檚 family.

鈥淲e have communicated with the family and shared our serious and heartfelt concern for this unspeakable loss,鈥 the police chief said.

Community members are calling for a third-party investigation into the shooting and an indictment of the officer.

In a Facebook post Saturday, Merritt said Jefferson was a pre-med graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana and worked in pharmaceutical equipment sales.

鈥淪he was very close to her family,鈥 Merritt wrote. 鈥淪he was the auntie that stayed up on Friday night playing video games with her 8-year old-nephew.鈥

鈥淗er mom had recently gotten very sick, so she was home taking care of the house and loving her life,鈥 he added. 鈥淭here was no reason for her to be murdered. None. We must have justice.鈥

The shooting occurred less than two weeks after former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who is white, was convicted of murdering her unarmed neighbor in his own apartment. Botham Jean, who is black, had been watching TV when Guyger stormed in, saying she believed an intruder was in her own apartment, which was a floor below. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Sanjana Karanth contributed to this report.

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