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Atatiana Jefferson Shot And Killed By Fort Worth Police Officer During Wellness Check

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Who Is Atatiana Jefferson? New Details On Texas Woman Shot And Killed By Police On A Wellness Check

There's been another heartbreaking police shooting of an innocent person. In this case, it was 28-year-old Fort Worth, Texas resident Atatiana Jefferson. She was a college graduate with big plans for her career. She was a beloved daughter, sister and aunt. It was a warm night and she left her front door open to cool off the house so she didn't have to turn on the air conditioner. Her neighbor saw the door open and knew the family was dealing with an ill family member and became concerned. He called the authorities to have a welfare check done because he was concerned. The police arrived and shot her through a window of her home, killing her. A community is outraged — as they should be. Who is Atatiana Jefferson?

1. The Welfare Check

On Saturday, October 12th, one of Atatiana "Tay" Jefferson's neighbors noticed her front door was open so he called the Fort Worth Police Department and asked them to do a welfare check on her. The police arrived shortly after, entered Jefferson's backyard and shot her moments later through her bedroom window. It was about 2:30 am and the 28-year-old was playing video games with her eight-year-old nephew. She was pronounced dead at 3:05 am. 

2. Who was she?

Let's be clear, Atatiana Jefferson was not committing a crime. There was no domestic violence. She was not doing anything wrong. Jefferson got her degree from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2014. She was a pre-med major. According to her Facebook page, she was a pharmaceutical equipment sales rep. According to a GoFundMe set up for her, her mom had recently gotten very sick and she was living back at home and taking care of her mom and the house. She was the auntie who stayed up late on a Friday night to play video games with her beloved nephew Zion. She was only 28. She was loved. 

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3. The cop who killed her

Aaron Dean was the Fort Worth police officer who murdered Atatiana Jefferson. Dean was put on administrative leave nearly immediately. He resigned when he heard he was about to be fired. He was arrested for the murder of Atatiana Jefferson. He posted a $200,000 bond. He's been released from jail and according to The New York Times, is not cooperating. The interim police chief of Fort Worth, Ed Kraus said that Dean has not answered the investigator's questions. He's been a member of the police department since April 2018. He graduated from the police academy in March 2018. He is a white man. 

4. She believed in justice

The irony of the whole situation is that in February 2014, Jefferson shared a Change.org petition on her Facebook page about a bus driver who was caught on camera hitting a passenger. In the post she wrote: “When you do the crime you do the time. Crimes cannot go unpunished no matter what they are. It makes a mockery of the U.S justice system if people feel comfortable enough to commit crimes. Whether this was his normal behavior or not, he should still be dealt with like any other person in that situation. If I speed I will get a ticket. I may not normally speed but that doesn’t change the fact that I have a ticket. Unless this man has a mental illness or a massive brain tumor that impaired his judgment he needs to be properly dealt with.”

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5. She had a gun

Atatiana Jefferson saw someone creeping around her backyard in the middle of the night. She had a legally-owned gun and a license to carry it. According to her nephew, she retrieved the gun when she saw someone in her backyard and pointed it at the window. She had no idea it was the police. But police officer Aaron Dean didn't flinch; he shot her. Even the interim Police Chief Ed Krause said in a news conference that it would make sense that she would arm herself if she thought someone was in the backyard. What doesn't make sense is the reaction of the police to kill her as they were there to do a welfare check, not investigate a crime. 

6. She wanted to go to med school

Jefferson was selling pharmaceutical equipment from home while studying for her GMATs. She planned to apply to medical school. Her sister Amber Carr said that Jefferson was a loving aunt who played basketball and video games with her nephews. Atatiania and Amber's mother was in the hospital when she was shot and killed. 

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7. Body camera footage

The body camera footage from the night Atatiana Jefferson was murdered provides more clarity on what happened. Two officers responded to the welfare check. They parked a block away from Jefferson's home. The unlatched the gate to the backyard and entered it. It was after 2 am. Dean yelled "Put your hands up! Show me your hands!" when he saw Jefferson. He then immediately fired his gun at her. They did not identify themselves to Jefferson before they killed her. The police chief has said of the body camera footage: “Nobody looked at that video and said there was any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately. I get it. We’re trying to train our officers better.”

8. Fort Worth has a problem in its police force

Fort Worth police officers have fatally shot six people since June. Six people in four months. According to The New York Times, one man was killed when he was pointing a flashlight at officers and they mistook it for a rifle. Police chief Krause fought back tears at Tuesday's press conference. He commented that the murder of Jefferson would hurt the relationship between the police and the city's residents. In an incredibly tone-deaf moment, he said: “I liken it to a bunch of ants building an anthill and then somebody comes with a hose and washes it all away and you just have to start from scratch."

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer and editor covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.