The Fort Worth Police Department in Texas is under serious fire after an unarmed 28-year-old woman was fatally shot inside her home by an officer responding to a welfare check.
Atatiana Jefferson was reportedly playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew early Saturday morning when she heard a noise in her backyard and went to investigate. That’s when she was shot by an officer through her bedroom window, according to police bodycam footage, heavy.com reports.
Just before 2:30 a.m. Oct. 12, the officer, whose name has not been released, responded to neighbor James Smith’s call that the front door to Jefferson’s home was open and the lights were on– something Smith found quite concerning.
According to multiple reports, bodycam video does not show the officer announcing himself or knocking on the door. Instead, the cop walks to the side of the house, where he opens a gate to the backyard and uses a flashlight to search the exterior of the property. When he sees a person watching him from a window inside the house, he yells “Put your hands up. Show me your hands!” He then shoots through the window– striking and killing Jefferson.
Meanwhile, Smith is giving a side-eye to the officer’s response, telling WFAA he saw no lights, heard no sirens and noted that none of the responding officers identified themselves before the shooting. He insists there was no arguing, fighting, domestic violence and “nothing that they should have been concerned about as far as them coming with guns drawn to my neighbor’s house,” he said.
“Three or four tactical officers come from around the corner, somehow walk across the street in front of her house, past the front door which was open… Go down the side of her house to the rear of her house, and in less than a minute I heard gunshots,” he added.
According to the Fort Worth Police Department, the trigger happy cop perceived a threat and fired one shot. Jefferson died at the scene. Authorities released images of a firearm inside the home, but have not stated if Jefferson was armed with the weapon at the time of her death.
One Twitter user commented, “You ever notice how they are so quick to tell us ‘there was a gun in the house?'”
You ever notice how they are so quick to tell us ” there was a gun in the house”?
— CoolBeadsbyBootC (@CoolBeadsBootC) October 13, 2019
“It was nothing nefarious or illegal about owning a fire arm, and they presented in no way that the fire arm lead to their use of deadly force,” Merritt said. “The hardest part about it is, I spoke with an 8-year-old who explained what it was like inside of the house.”
The officer responsible for Jefferson’s death is currently on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Community leaders and neighbors believe the bodycam footage fails to support the typical “officer was in fear of his life” narrative, and family attorney Lee Merritt calls it another police-involved murder of an unarmed Black civilian.
Jefferson reportedly worked at Xavier University of Louisiana, where she also studied biology and majored in chemistry with a minor in pre-med. A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family cover “funeral cost and other expenses associated with this tragedy,” Merritt wrote on Twitter.
For all those who have reached out looking to support the family. This campaign is managed directly by Atatiana’s immediate family and will support them with funeral cost and other expenses associated with this tragedy. https://t.co/AAvTzwlDyA
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) October 13, 2019
The GoFundMe page notes that Jefferson was working in pharmaceutical equipment sales. The fundraiser has been trending on Twitter with the hashtag #SayHerName.
The shooting happened just weeks after Dallas police officer, Amber Guyger, was found guilty of murder after shooting her unarmed neighbor Botham Jean inside his own apartment last year. Guyger was slapped with a 10 years in prison. Three days after her trail ended, a key witness in the case, Joshua Brown, was shot to death in what many believe was an orchestrated police-involved hit, although the Dallas Police Department claims Brown’s death was the result of a drug deal gone bad.