FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — The Fort Worth officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson in her home while responding to a welfare check this weekend has resigned from the department before he could be fired, officials said.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus identified the officer as Aaron Dean. Kraus said Dean was going to be fired Monday morning, but the officer turned in his resignation before he could do so.
Jefferson was killed early Saturday morning inside her home in the 1200 block of E. Allen Avenue as officers were responding to welfare check.
Jefferson’s neighbor, James Smith, had called the department’s non-emergency number after noticing that the front door of her home had been left open since about 10 p.m. Friday.
Police said in a statement Saturday that the officer who shot her had perceived a threat and drew his weapon while checking her home. He fired once, striking her. He had been with the department since April 2018.
In an update Sunday, police said the officers responding to the call didn’t park their marked cars in front of the house nor did they identity themselves as officers at any time.
Body-cam video was also released that showed the events leading up to Jefferson’s death. The video shows the officer shining a flashlight into a window and shouting at Jefferson to put her hands up. Not even a full second later, she was shot through the window.
The department also released pictures of a handgun that could be seen inside the home.
Mayor Betsy Price addressed the pictures of the gun, calling it “irrelevant.”
“I want to address the images that were released picturing the gun inside Ms. Jefferson’s home. A gun is irrelevant. Atatiana was in her own home, caring for her 8-year-old nephew. She was a victim. And she was taken from her family in circumstances that are truly unthinkable,” Price said.
She also said a third-party panel of experts will be reviewing the police department and that it will be led by City Manager David Cooke.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Price addressed both Jefferson’s neighbor and nephew.
To Mr. James Smith, I know you are hurting today as well. You called police to check on your neighbor because you cared about her safety and wellbeing. You were being a wonderful neighbor and doing the right thing to make sure she was ok. You are the type of person we all want living next door, watching out for us. Atatiana’s death has eroded your own your sense of safety and trust in law enforcement. I’m truly sorry.
To Atatiana’s nephew, who has witnessed an unspeakable loss — sorry doesn’t really cut it. This entire city needs to surround him with prayers, support, and anything his family needs,” Price said.
The incident has sparked outrage throughout the nation as Jefferson’s family seeks answers as to why she was killed inside her own home during a welfare check.
Before he was interviewed by police, Kraus said Dean resigned. The chief said he expects the officer to face criminal charges.
Kraus said he also presented the case to the FBI to see if there would be possible civil rights violations.