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Fort Worth Officer Charged With Murder In Killing Of Atatiana Jefferson In Her Home

Officer Aaron Dean was arrested after he fatally shot the 28-year-old Black woman who was inside her own house. He was later released from jail.

The Texas police officer who on Saturday fatally shot Atatiana “Tay” Jefferson was arrested and charged with murder Monday, according to Tarrant County jail records.

Officer Aaron Dean resigned earlier Monday over his fatal shooting of Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black woman, in her own home. Dean shot Jefferson though a window of her home after a neighbor requested a wellness check at the residence. 

Fort Worth police Sgt. Chris Daniels said at a Monday night news conference that Dean was arrested about 6 p.m., adding that the police department had been working with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office.

Dean was released from jail Monday night after posting $200,000 bond, according to a reporter from Dallas-Fort Worth’s KDFW-TV. Dean’s name no longer appeared in a Tarrant County Jail inmate search late Monday.

“We value the trust we’ve had with our community,” Daniels said. “We will continue to be as transparent as possible in all police matters. To the citizens and residents of our city, we feel and understand your anger and your disappointment.”

The sergeant said interim Police Chief Ed Kraus will hold a more detailed news conference Tuesday. Kraus said earlier Monday that Dean may also face state charges and that he had asked the FBI to investigate the case for potential civil rights violations. 

Daniels said the department’s major case and internal affairs units are “continuing to work diligently” to complete their respective criminal and administrative investigations of the shooting.

County jail records did not indicate whether Dean had an attorney, but Charley Wilkison, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, wrote in a statement that the police union will provide financial support for Dean for his legal defense.

Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney representing Jefferson’s family, said Monday that the family “is relieved” about Dean’s arrest and murder charge. 

“We need to see this through to a vigorous prosecution & appropriate sentencing,” Merritt tweeted. “The City of Fort Worth has much work to do to reform a brutal culture of policing.”

Jefferson’s neighbor James Smith had called the police department’s nonemergency line to express concern that the house’s front door appeared to be open and the lights on. Dean arrived with several other officers minutes after the neighbor’s call. 

Body camera video released Saturday appeared to show Dean entering the backyard of the house, turning left, then grabbing for his gun and pointing it at the window.

He then can be heard shouting, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” before immediately firing one round through the screen window at roughly 2:30 a.m. 

Jefferson died at the scene. There was no indication Dean or the other officers identified themselves to Jefferson or knocked on the front door of the house before the shooting, officials said.

Merritt said Jefferson was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew moments before she was killed. She went to the window when she heard a noise outside and was shot, Merritt said. The attorney said Jefferson’s nephew was in the room at the time of the shooting.

Dean was served a written administrative complaint the following day, placed on administrative leave and stripped of his badge and firearm, Kraus said at a news conference on Monday afternoon.

Kraus also said he was planning to fire Dean before the officer tendered his resignation Monday. The resignation letter was one sentence: “Effective immediately I am tendering my resignation from the Fort Worth Police Department.”

“Had the officer not resigned, I would have fired him for violations of several policies, including our use-of-force policy, our de-escalation policy and unprofessional conduct,” Kraus said.

The police chief also said state licensing paperwork would reflect that Dean was “dishonorably discharged” from the force. Kraus added that Dean has not been cooperating with the police department’s investigations into him.

This article has been updated with information from the police department and Dean’s release from jail.

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