A police officer who reportedly shot a woman dead in her own home as she played video games with her nephew was charged with murder Monday. Atatiana "Tay" Jefferson, 28, was gunned down through her bedroom window in Fort Worth, Texas, after a neighbor called the cops to report suspicious behavior.
“I called because I was concerned for my neighbors," neighbor James Smith told CBS This Morning, noting that the lights were on later than usual and the door was open. "What I witnessed was three or four tactical officers come from around the corner seem like … And in less than a minute, I heard gunshots.”
The Jefferson family’s lawyer explained how the nephew recalled that the door had been left open to allow the fall breeze into the house as the pair played video games together. The grieving family members have called for swift action against the offending officer, Aaron Dean.
"There is simply no justification for his actions," said Jefferson’s sister, Ashley Carr, according to USA Today. "We demand justice for Atatiana through an independent and thorough investigation."
The victim’s brother, Adarius Carr, added simply: "This man murdered someone.”
Many Christian leaders have responded to the tragedy by offering words of condolence and calling for more urgent action against racism. “I am tired of shaking my head and rubbing my head and trying to think what it would be like to be Black in America,” tweeted preacher and native Texan, Beth Moore. “I want to be part of a CHANGE. NOW in this generation. This injustice is outrageous. What continues to go on in this nation in regard to Black Americans is madness.”
I am tired of shaking my head and rubbing my head and trying to think what it would be like to be Black in America. I want to be part of a CHANGE. NOW in this generation. This injustice is outrageous. What continues to go on in this nation in regard to Black Americans is madness.— Beth Moore (@BethMooreLPM) October 13, 2019
“You are so right,” Kay Warren, the wife of Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, noted in her retweet of Moore’s sentiments. “I cannot FATHOM what Black people have experienced over the centuries in America and continue to experience today. Words fail. Tears fall. #AtatianaJefferson.”
You are so right, @BethMooreLPM. I cannot FATHOM what Black people have experienced over the centuries in America and continue to experience today. Words fail. Tears fall. #AtatianaJefferson https://t.co/iDNy3oSVJS— Kay Warren (@KayWarren1) October 13, 2019
Author and Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer tweeted that her kids were concerned for her safety following the horrific murder. “Today, my sons r looking at me -their black mother- in concern,” she wrote. “They hear of #AtatianaJefferson & recognize that she is me. And I am her.”
Jerry & I talk w/our sons abt race in America, normally abt the awareness they need as black MEN in this country. But this wk is different. Today, my sons r looking at me -their black mother- in concern. They hear of #AtatianaJefferson & recognize that she is me. And I am her💔— Priscilla Shirer (@PriscillaShirer) October 14, 2019
The suspect is currently being held on a $200,000 bond.
"To the citizens and residents of our city, we feel and understand your anger and your disappointment and we stand by you as we work together to make Fort Worth a better place for us all,” said Fort Worh police’s Sgt. Daniels following the arrest, according to NBC News. "We value the trust that we've had with our community. We will continue to build that trust."
In addition, prior to the arrest, Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said he had planned to terminate Dean’s employment with the force. "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," he said.
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Will Maule is a British journalist who has spent the past several years working as a digital news editor. Since earning a degree in international relations and politics, Will has developed a particular interest in covering ethical issues, human rights and global religious persecution. Will's work has been featured in various outlets including The Spectator, Faithwire, CBN News, Spiked, The Federalist and Christian Headlines. Follow him on Twitter at @WillAMaule.