Atatiana Jefferson was killed in her home early Saturday morning by a police officer who was responding to a welfare check in Fort Worth, Texas. It was 2:25am when officers responded to a neighbor that called a non-emergency police number. The neighbor called because the door to the home was open and the lights were on, and that raised cause for concern.
Though Atatiana was fine inside playing video games with her nephew, she was killed when Officer Aaron Dean showed up to respond to the situation.
Her neighbor regretted calling because it ultimately led to the untimely death of Jefferson. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the neighbor “has lived on the street for 50 years” and he said “he had been trying to be a good neighbor, calling police on a non-emergency number so they could check on the residents.”
After Atatiana was killed, “he was wrestling with his emotions after a sleepless night.” The neighbor responded by saying “‘I’m shaken. I’m mad. I’m upset. And I feel it’s partly my fault… If I had never dialed the police department, she’d still be alive.’”
The news led to outcry in the community since this is not an irregular occurrence.
Jefferson’s killing marks the seventh time a person has been shot by an officer in Fort Worth since June. Six of those seven people that were shot by this police department died. Jefferson’s killing is also taking place in the shadow of a murder charge for former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger. She received a 10-year sentence after killing Botham Jean in his own home, claiming she’d mistakenly thought his apartment was her own.
Guyger's sentence left many in the Black community across Texas and throughout the United States unsettled by what they felt was an unfairly lenient sentence for someone who’d been charged with murder.
Atatiana’s family and activists were initially calling for the termination of the officer who killed her. CNN reported that “The officer was served a written administrative complaint Sunday, placed on detached duty and stripped of his badge and firearm.”
Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said on Monday, "My intent was to meet with him today to terminate his employment with the Fort Worth Police Department, however, the officer tendered his resignation this morning before we met."
Now that the officer has been fired, it leaves the family and community members in a position of where to go next. The officer doesn’t have a job and could potentially face criminal charges for killing Jefferson.
Studies have shown that Black people are more than twice as likely to be killed by a police officer. Atatiana Jefferson’s death highlights this fact for many and underscores a concern that these sorts of killings will happen regardless of how, when, or where Black people encounter the police.