Ex-Texas policeman indicted in fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson
Jefferson was inside her home when the officer shot her through a window.
A former police officer in Fort Worth, Tex., was indicted for murder by a grand jury Friday in the fatal shooting of a Atatiana Jefferson through the back window of her home.
The case drew public outcry across the country stemming from the fact that Jefferson, a 28-year-old pre-med student, was sitting at home babysitting a nephew at the time of the October shooting by Aaron Dean, 35.
The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office confirmed the indictment to NBC News. The development means that members of the grand jury concluded there was enough evidence to try Dean for murder.
The family was relieved with Friday’s development, lawyer S. Lee Merritt said via Twitter on Friday.
“Atatiana’s family is relieved but remain cautious that a conviction and appropriate sentence is still a long way away,” Merritt said. “Keep pushing,” he added.
The case unfolded on October 12th as Jefferson sat at home with her 8-year-old nephew playing video games. Dean and another partner were responding to a call for a welfare check at the home, owned by Jefferson’s mother, because a neighbor noticed the front door ajar.
Bodycam video showed the officer peering into a window, spotting Jefferson and telling her to put her hands up.
Jefferson’s nephew told police that she took a handgun from her purse when she heard noise outside and pointed it to the window. Police have said she was within her rights to protect herself, NBC reported.
Police and bodycam video indicated Dean did not identify himself before he fired his weapon at Jefferson, fatally striking her.
It is rare for a grand jury to bring a murder charge against a police officer, but law enforcement and prosecutors have come down hard against Dean.
Prosecutors in Tarrant County said in a statement the week after Jefferson’s death that they had enough evidence to present the case to a grand jury, and vowed to “prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law,” NBC reported.
Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus told reporters, “Had the officer not resigned, I would have fired him for violations for several policies, including our use of force policy, our de-escalation policy and unprofessional conduct.”
Dean resigned before his arrest, which came within days of the incident.