The warrant for the arrest of Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean for the killing of Atatiana Jefferson, 28, in her home provides details from the account of her 8-year-old nephew, who witnessed the fatal shooting. According to the boy, his aunt was holding a handgun and pointed it at the window after she heard noises outside from the officers inspecting her home in response to a call from a concerned neighbor early Saturday morning.
Police have underscored that it “makes sense” that Jefferson would use her gun if she felt she was being threatened by someone in her own home. The lawyer representing the Jefferson family has also noted that she legally owned the gun.
As reported by The Dallas Morning News, the boy told authorities that he was in the room with Jefferson when she was shot and killed by Dean, one of the two officers who responded to a neighbor’s call expressing concern about Jefferson’s front door being left open and lights on so late at night.
The boy was playing video games with his aunt when she heard noises outside her home, he said. She took a handgun from her purse and pointed it “toward the window,” the boy told forensic investigators. That’s when Dean yelled, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” then fired a single shot, killing Jefferson.
“Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said at a news conference Tuesday that it ‘makes sense that she would have a gun if she felt that she was being threatened or there was someone in the backyard,'” Dallas Morning News reports.
“It’s only appropriate that Ms. Jefferson would have a gun,” said Lee Merritt, the lawyer representing Jefferson’s family, noting that she had a license to carry the legally owned firearm. “When you think there’s someone prowling around in the back at 2 in the morning, you may need to arm yourself. That person could have a gun.”
Merritt stressed that Jefferson legally owned the firearm and was licensed to carry it.
After turning in his badge earlier in the day, Dean was arrested on Monday on murder charges. Shortly afterward, the Fort Worth Police Department issued a press release providing some details about the case.
“At approximately 6 p.m., Aaron Dean was arrested for the murder of Ms. Jefferson and he has since been booked in Tarrant County Jail,” the release reads. “Our department is working closely with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office. Our Major Case and Internal Affairs Units are continuing to work around the clock to ensure that no stone is left unturned and justice for Ms. Jefferson’s family and community are served.”
The shooting has sparked outrage from the community, some of the leaders of which suggesting that it may have been racially motivated since the officer is white and Jefferson is black.
Amid the outcry over the shooting, the department released body cam footage on Saturday showing the officers scanning the perimeter of her home using flashlights. After checking a door and some windows, Dean shouts, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” He then fired through a bedroom window. The footage ends with two still shots of a handgun in the bedroom, presumably the one Jefferson was holding in self-defense when she was shot.
The video footage does not show the officer announcing that he is with law enforcement, and the neighbor who called the non-emergency police number says the officers parked around the block so their vehicle likely was not visible from inside the house.
Video below (warning: graphic content):