It’s been a little over a month since a police officer shot into the window of Atatiana Jefferson’s home, killing her as she played video games with her 8-year-old nephew. Now a panel consisting of legal experts, civil rights workers, and law enforcement specialists have been selected to review the police department responsible for her death.
Though disgraced officer Aaron Deane has been charged with Jefferson’s murder, incidents of police violence emitting from the Fort Worth Police Department have been numerous. According to the Associated Press, the killing of the 28-year-old human resources officer and family caretaker was the sixth fatal police shooting since June and the ninth overall shooting this year.
“I want to go ahead and dispel the myth that this is somehow a one-off — that this was just a bad-luck incident from an otherwise sound department,” Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney representing Jefferson’s family, said at a press conference following her death. “The Fort Worth Police Department is on pace to be one of the deadliest police departments in the United States.”
Police involved shootings have furthered the distrust for police officers among Fort Worth’s Black community. The establishment of the department’s review panel is intended to be a step toward improving and retaining public trust and confidence, according to Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke who released a statement about the panel on Nov. 8.
The eight-person panel which will be led by Dr. Theron L. Brown and Dr. Alex del Carmen, who Cooke says both have extensive police reform experience, was presented to city council members on Tuesday, NBC DFW reported. The members are expected to vote on Lynda Garcia, Emily Gunston, Tom Petroski, JD, Jonathan Smith, Marcia Thompson, Esq., and Dr. Rita Watkins on Nov. 19. The review is expected to take upwards of a year.