Update (October 16, 2019): Atatiana Jefferson's nephew, who was in the home when his aunt was shot by a police officer on Saturday, told authorities she grabbed a gun after hearing loud noises outside the home, The Washington Post reported.
An arrest warrant for Aaron Dean details some of the events that led to Jefferson’s death in her Texas home. Jefferson’s family previously said she was trying to protect herself and her 8-year-old nephew because she felt an intruder was trying to break in.
The two were playing video games in a bedroom in the back of the house when Jefferson “heard noises coming from outside” and “took her handgun from her purse.” According to VICE, Jefferson legally owned her handgun.
The boy, whose name has been redacted from the affidavit, told the forensic interviewer, Detective A. Rimshas, his aunt “raised her handgun, pointed it toward the window” and “was shot and fell to the ground.” Jefferson was pronounced dead on the scene.
She was 28 years old.— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) October 13, 2019
She was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew in her own home.
She was INSIDE THE HOUSE.
Repeat: she. was. inside. her. house. when. they. shot. her.
Say her fucking name because this shit has gone on FAR too long.#TayJefferson #AtatianaJefferson pic.twitter.com/KJGY7c4r9D
Dean later resigned from his position and has been charged with murder. He was released on bail shortly after being taken into custody.
The Washington Post noted Jefferson’s mother was recently hospitalized and that Smith wanted to see if she was all right, according to statements made by family and city officials.
Two officers responded to the home and walked around the backyard, according to body camera footage. The officer reportedly did not identify himself after shining a light through Jefferson's window.
Smith said he never expected his call to lead to Jefferson’s death.
“I am devastated,” he said. “And people say, ‘Well, James, it’s not your fault.’ But I made the call. I made the call because I thought they were going to do what I called them to do, check on my neighbor, and they didn’t do that.”
Before calling the authorities, Smith, who has been a resident of the neighborhood for 50 years, said he first noticed Jefferson’s door being open around 2 a.m. He crossed the street to check for himself, but because he was unsure of the situation and was unarmed, he called for police.
His hope was to speak to police personally to explain his thinking, but they never came to his house before going to Jefferson’s.
Fort Worth interim Police Chief Ed Kraus appeared to defend Jefferson’s actions.
It “makes sense that she would have a gun if she felt she was being threatened or if there was someone in the backyard,” he said.
Kraus also said the incident was inexcusable and that the person responsible will be held accountable.
Texas has a law known as the “castle doctrine” that gives people a legal right to use fatal force and defend their homes. The law was also central to the trial of former officer Amber Guyger who shot and killed Botham Jean in his apartment.
Dean joined the Fort Worth police department in April 2018, The Washington Post reported.
CNN reported Dean has refused to speak with detectives about what happened.
Aaron Dean was booked into a Tarrant County Jail Monday night some hours after he resigned from his post. The Dallas Morning News reports the 34-year-old was held in jail on a $200,000 bond and later released.
#UPDATE— Fort Worth Police (@fortworthpd) October 15, 2019
Aaron Dean was arrested by Fort Worth Police
on Oct. 14. Dean has been charged with
murder of Atatiana Jefferson. Dean is in
the Tarrant County Jail.
Interim @chiefkraus will schedule a News
Conference for Oct. 15 at Bob Bolen. That time has not been determined yet. pic.twitter.com/eRZfMWtgM4
According to a statement from the Jefferson family's attorney Lee Merritt, the family is still grieving the death of their loved one, but they are relieved Dean has been charged.
"The family of Atatiana Jefferson is relieved that Aaron Dean has been arrested & charged with murder," Merritt said in a statement via Twitter. "We need to see this through to a vigorous prosecution & appropriate sentencing. The City of Fort Worth has much work to do to reform a brutal culture of policing."
The family of Atatiana Jefferson is relieved that Aaron Dean has been arrested & charged with murder. We need to see this through to a vigorous prosecution & appropriate sentencing. The City of Fort Worth has much work to do to reform a brutal culture of policing. pic.twitter.com/IG1nZLo1T5— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) October 15, 2019
Jefferson was shot by Dean during a wellness check gone awry. Neighbor James Smith called 311 to report that the front door of the victim's house was opened around 2 a.m. Saturday.
Bodycam footage from the early morning incident showed Dean firing into a bedroom window and striking Jefferson, who was investigating sounds in her backyard caused by police. Family members told media she was at home to take care of her ill mother. At the time of the shooting, the Xaiver University graduate was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew, Zion, and lost track of time. She often cared for her nephew, the family said.
If Dean hadn't resigned hours before the arrest, Fort Worth Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus would have terminated the officer. Dean had been on the force since April 2018.
Due to his actions and resignation, the rookie police officer will have a dishonorable discharge on his record. Kraus would have fired Dean for violating the Fort Worth police policy on the use of force, de-escalation and professional conduct, he said in a press conference 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," Kraus explained according to CNN.
Dean reportedly refused to cooperate fully with the investigation. Now, the shooting case is being considered for the FBI to see if there were any possible civil rights violations.
CBS News reports the Fort Worth Police Department will be subject to a review by an independent police monitor and a third-party panel of experts to determine police misconduct.