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Sunday, 13 October 2019

Woman killed in own home when Fort Worth officer shoots her, police and witness say

Atatiana Koquice Jefferson (pictured), 28, was fatally shot by an unidentified white police officer inside her home on Saturday morning

A white police officer in Texas fatally shot a black woman inside her home after officers were called to do a welfare check, according to authorities. 
Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, 28, of Fort Worth was killed by an unidentified police officer with the Fort Worth Police Department on Saturday morning. 
62-year-old James Smith, Jefferson's neighbor, called the local non-emergency number after he noticed her front door was open and lights were on around 2.25am. 
Jefferson was shot inside her home (pictured) at the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue in Fort Worth, Texas

Jefferson was shot inside her home (pictured) at the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue in Fort Worth, Texas 

He knew Jefferson was supposed to be home with her 8-year-old nephew. 
Firing through a window, a white Fort Worth officer fatally shot a black woman inside her home early Saturday after police were called to the house because its doors were open, according to police and the neighbour who summoned them.
Atatiana Jefferson, 28, died in a bedroom, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Officers responded at 2:25 a.m. to the house in the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue. James Smith, who called a non-emergency police number, said he saw the doors were open and the lights were on, which struck him as unusual. He knew Jefferson, his neighbor, was home with her 8-year-old nephew.
Police parked around the corner, and the woman could not see them, according to Smith, 62. About 15 minutes later, he said, he heard a loud bang and saw several more officers rush inside.
Body-worn camera video police released shows two officers using flashlights to check the perimeter of the house, inspecting two doors that are open with closed screen doors. At the back of house, one officer appears to see a figure through a dark window, and he quickly twists his body to the left.
“Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” he shouts through the window, his gun drawn. He then fires a single shot through the window.
In the video, he does not identify himself as an officer.
Jefferson was playing video games with her nephew when they heard what they believed to be a prowler outside, her relatives’ attorney said. When she went to the window to see what was going on, she was shot, the attorney said.
Police said that the officer, who joined the department in April 2018, saw a person standing inside the house near a window.
“Perceiving a threat, the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot striking the person inside the residence,” the department said in a news release. “Officers entered the residence locating the individual and a firearm and began providing emergency medical care.”
Police released photographs of a gun they said that they found in a bedroom at the house. They did not say whether Jefferson was holding the weapon when the officer shot her.


Atatiana Jefferson in a Facebook photo FACEBOOK

S. Lee Merritt, an attorney who handles civil rights cases that involve police misconduct allegations, said his office was representing the Jefferson family.
Jefferson worked in pharmaceutical equipment sales, Merritt wrote Saturday on Facebook.
“Before law enforcement goes about their pattern of villainizing this beautiful peaceful woman, turning her into a suspect, a silhouette, or threat, let me tell you about [her,]” Merritt wrote. “She was a premed graduate of Xavier University. She was very close to her family. She was the auntie that stayed up on Friday night playing video games with her 8 year old nephew.”
“Her mom had recently gotten very sick, so she was home taking care of the house and loving her life. There was no reason for her to be murdered. None. We must have justice,” Merritt wrote.
Jefferson was pronounced dead at the scene. The officer, whose name the department did not release, was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, police said.
Smith, who has lived on the street for 50 years, said he had been trying to be a good neighbor, calling police on a non-emergency number so they could check on the residents. But he was wrestling with his emotions after a sleepless night.
“I’m shaken. I’m mad. I’m upset. And I feel it’s partly my fault,” he said. “If I had never dialed the police department, she’d still be alive.”

Duration 0:54
Neighbor talks about fatal shooting of woman by Fort Worth police officer

James Smith said he called Fort Worth, TX police to check on his neighbor because doors of her home were open. One of the officers who responded shot and killed Smith's neighbor, Atatiana Jefferson, in her home on Allen Avenue on Saturday. 
The south Fort Worth community was jolted by news that felt like a familiar story, and later in the day more than 10 black community leaders and pastors held a press conference to call on city leadership to act quickly and hold the officer in question accountable.
Pastor Michael Bell, speaking inside his own Greater Saint Stephen Baptist Church, read the police account after it was released about noon and offered an immediate response. He wondered, visibly emotional and upset, how a person could be a “perceived threat” inside of her home.
“Ain’t no ‘perceived threat’ — unless it’s black folk,” he said. “Just our presence — we’re the threat.”
Police said they wanted to be transparent with a quick response in releasing a portion of body camera video. But they said they were unable to release video from inside the house, citing state law.
The police department did not offer answers to a list of questions the Star-Telegram sent it, including those that asked whether Jefferson had held a weapon, what the officer perceived as a threat and if officers knocked on the front door or identified themselves as police officers.
“Being the preliminary stages of this critical investigation we have provided all the information we have available to release at this time,” Lt. Brandon O’Neil, a police spokesman, wrote in an email.

‘IT MAKES YOU NOT WANT TO CALL THE POLICE DEPARTMENT’

Smith said his neighbors look after each other. When he called the non-emergency number early Saturday, he told police he was simply worried about the welfare of his neighbor and her nephew, he said.
They typically live with an older woman, who has been in the hospital, he said. His grandchildren, nieces and nephews play with the 8-year-old who was inside the house, and he often worries about the boy crossing the street.
Smith’s niece, who also lives on East Allen Avenue, had initially told him about the open doors and the lights, and when he saw it himself, he thought it was concerning.
“When I saw the doors open, I thought about [the child,] I thought about his grandma, I thought about his aunt,” he said. “And I wanted to make sure they were safe. That’s all I wanted to do.”
But around 9 a.m. Saturday, as he stood outside the woman’s home, he wondered if he had done the right thing. Pastor Kyev Tatum, a community activist, was with him, comforting him.
Smith knows his street has a bad reputation, he said. Maybe, he wondered, police “thought they were coming to something they weren’t.”
The shooting left him feeling angry and upset, he said, but also saddened.
“It makes you not want to call the police department,” he said. “If you don’t feel safe with the police department, then who do you feel safe with? Do you just ignore crime or ignore something that’s not right?
“They tell you, ‘If you see something, say something. ...Well, if you do that and it costs somebody to lose their life, it makes you not want to do that. And that’s sad.”

Atatiana Jefferson.jpg
Duration 0:47
'It makes you not want to call the police,' say neighbor of woman killed by officer

After James Smith, called Fort Worth, TX police to check on the welfare of his neighbour, an officer fatally shot the woman, Atatiana Jefferson, in her own home. "If you don't feel safe with the police department, then who do you feel safe with?" 

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