Fort Worth Police Officer Who Killed Atatiana Jefferson Resigns Hours Before He Could Be Fired

UPDATE: Former Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean, 34, has been arrested and charged with murder. His bail has been set at $200,000. Click here to read more.

Tarrant County Jail


Aaron Dean, the Fort Worth, Texas, police officer who killed Atatiana “Tay” Jefferson, 28, during a welfare check early Saturday morning, has resigned. He may face criminal charges, as well as civil rights violations, interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said Monday.

According to Kraus, Dean was scheduled to be interviewed Monday but resigned before answering any questions.

“He resigned before his opportunity to be cooperative,” Kraus said. “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 had been with the Fort Worth Police Department since April 2018, NBC News reports.

As ESSENCE previously reported, Jefferson was in her home playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew before she was killed. Her neighbor James Smith, who became concerned when he noticed the lights on and the front door open, used a non-emergency police line to request that someone go check on her.

“The front doors have [been] open since 10:00 [p.m.] and I haven’t seen anybody moving around,” Smith told the dispatcher, according to audio released by the police department. “It’s not normal for them to have both doors open at this time.”

Smith now blames himself for Jefferson’s death, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

“I’m shaken, I’m mad, I’m upset,” Smith said. “And I feel that it’s partly my fault. If I had never dialed the police department, she’d still be alive.”

Dean fatally shot Jefferson from outside the home through a bedroom window within four seconds of seeing what “he perceived to be a threat, the Washington Post reports.

“Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” Dean can be heard yelling on body cam footage. He did not identify himself as a police officer before firing through the window a moment later.

Jefferson’s family and their attorney, S. Lee Merritt, have called for the federal government to step in and investigate the shooting, Dallas News reports, citing the Fort Worth Police department’s several recent officer-involved shootings. According to the outlet, Fort Worth officers have killed or wounded seven people, including Jefferson, since June 1.

“This man murdered someone,” Darius Carr, Jefferson’s brother, told reporters. “He should be arrested.”

According to Merritt, Jefferson’s nephew witnessed his beloved aunt’s death and will begin counseling Monday.


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