Questions intensify after Texas officer kills woman at home

Questions intensify after Texas officer kills woman at home

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A white police officer who fatally shot a 28-year-old black woman inside her Texas home was set to be interviewed Monday by investigators as questions and outrage grow over the shooting.

The Fort Worth Police Department said officers responded early Saturday after a neighbor called a non-emergency line to report the home’s front door had been left open. The responding officer fired a shot through the home’s window, killing Atatiana Jefferson.

A family attorney, Lee Merritt, said Jefferson was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when she was killed.

“You didn’t hear the officer shout, ‘Gun, gun, gun,'” Merritt said after viewing video taken from a Fort Worth officer’s bodycam. “He didn’t have time to perceive a threat. That’s murder.”

Fort Worth police said in a statement that officers saw someone near a window inside the home and that one of them drew his duty weapon and fired after “perceiving a threat.” The video released by police shows two officers searching the home from the outside with flashlights before one shouts, “Put your hands up, show me your hands.” One shot is then fired through a window.

In the video, the officer does not identify himself as police.

Fort Worth police said it released the bodycam footage soon after the shooting to provide transparency, but that any “camera footage inside the residence” could not be distributed due to state law. However, the bodycam video released to media included blurred still frames showing a gun inside a bedroom at the home. It’s unclear if the firearm was found near Jefferson, and police have not said that the officer who shot her thought she had a gun. The police statement released Saturday said only that officers who entered the residence after the shooting found a firearm, and Lt. Brandon O’Neil would not answer reporters’ questions Sunday on why police released images of the gun.

A large crowd gathered outside Jefferson’s home Sunday night for a vigil after earlier demonstrations briefly stopped traffic on part of Interstate 35.

Jefferson was a 2014 graduate of Xavier University in New Orleans and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, the university said.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with her family and friends as we gather as a community in prayer,” President Reynold Verret said in a letter to the Xavier community. “As we wait for details of this incident to unfold, let us cling to our mission of justice and humanity and seek answers to this tragedy.”

Merritt told the Star-Telegram that Jefferson was working in pharmaceutical equipment sales and was considering going back to medical school.

The Fort Worth Police Officers Association issued a statement Sunday calling for “a thorough and transparent investigation” into the shooting.

“The members of the FWPOA love the citizens that we serve, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Atatiana Jefferson; our hearts are heavy,” the statement said.

The shooting comes less than two weeks after a white former Dallas police officer was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of her black neighbor inside his own apartment. Amber Guyger, 31, said during her trial that mistook Botham Jean’s apartment for her own, which was one floor below Jean’s. Merritt also represents Jean’s family.


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