FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth city leaders came together for a community roundtable Thursday night, just days away from the one-year anniversary of the death of Atatiana Jefferson.
The 28-year-old was shot and killed on Oct. 12, 2019 by a Fort Worth police officer, while she was inside her home with her young nephew.
Since her death, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price says the city has made progress towards racial justice.
“I don’t tell you this to be defensive, but I do want you to know there is hard work going on,” she told the crowd at the socially distant roundtable at Texas Wesleyan University. “It started long ago, but it really ramped up after we lost Atatiana.”
Price said the city hired a police monitor, and they brought in an outside panel of experts to review the police department. That panel’s final report will be coming out later this year.
“We have made major steps, but there are miles and miles to go,” the mayor said.
Deputy Chief Neil Noakes said the Fort Worth Police Department has improved training and changed its policy to require deescalation in situations where use of force is a potential.
“As a matter of fact, when officers make the scene, if they have to use force, they’re required to explain what deescalation techniques they used to prevent that use of force from happening in the first place,” said Noakes.
Other city leaders talked about the ways Fort Worth has addressed inequities in minority contracts and other quality of life issues.
Many of the people who came out for the event wanted to keep the focus on Jefferson, holding up her picture and getting audibly frustrated with only being able to submit written questions.
Jefferson’s sisters were at the meeting and thanked people for their support.
“We appreciate you guys always lifting us up, calling and checking on us,” said her sister Ashley Carr.
Those who participated in the roundtable could not talk specifically about Jefferson’s case because the City of Fort Worth is currently under a gag order on the matter.
The officer who killed Jefferson, Aaron Dean, resigned from his job and was indicted and charged with murder.
A date for his trial still hasn’t been set.