FORT WORTH, Texas — Hundreds of people, outraged at the cop killing of Atatiana Jefferson, turned out for a vigil and to stand with her family Oct. 13 in front of the house where she was shot dead by Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean. Jefferson, 28, lived in an historic Black community on the Southside of the city.
Two cops went to her home the day before at 2:30 a.m. after a neighbor called the police concerned that Jefferson’s front door was open and requested they check it. The cops neither knocked on the door, nor announced they were police officers. Instead, they entered the back yard where Dean shouted to Jefferson to raise her hands before shooting her dead only a split second later.
Jefferson was with her 8-year-old nephew playing video games when the cops arrived. She had picked up her handgun when she heard a noise from the backyard, Dean’s arrest warrant says.
The family held a press conference at the office of attorney Lee Merritt Oct. 14. He was also one of the attorneys for the family of Botham Jean who was killed in his home by Dallas cop Amber Guyger last fall.
Jefferson’s killing happened within weeks of the murder conviction and 10-year prison sentence of Guyger.
A smaller crowd of people gathered across the street from the site of the killing Oct. 14, when they heard the news that Dean had been charged with murder and released on a $200,000 bond. Dean quit the cops that day.
“Now the mask is coming off,” Rev. Kyev Tatum, pastor at New Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church here, told the crowd. “This is not just happening to one color,” he continued, “it is happening to Black, brown and poor whites. No more harassment and targeting of the Southside by police. But until he [Dean] is convicted of murder this is not over. Everyone needs to turn out for the trial. No bail. No bond.”
Andrew Hernandez, who came from Mansfield, said, “My sister lives down the street. I came to show support. Members of my family could get 25 to 50 years or life for drug charges. But cops kill and only get 10 years.”
Kenneth Frances, who lives down the street when he is not driving a truck in the oil fields in Odessa, told the Militant that he thought “this is the beginning of the end of officers getting away with killing people which is common practice around here.”
Since June, Fort Worth cops have shot seven people, six of them fatally. “You are going to pay for common practice. It took three days for a murder charge. The ball is rolling,” Frances added.
James Smith, the neighbor who had called the cops to request they check the premises, told the Fort Worth Star Telegraph, “I don’t know what went on in that house, but I know she wasn’t a threat.”