Fort Worth police announced at a news conference Monday that the officer who shot and killed a woman in her home Saturday has resigned.
Chief Ed Kraus identified the officer as Aaron Dean. He said he was going to fire the officer if he had not resigned Monday morning.
Kraus said a criminal investigation is ongoing and he expects to release an update by Tuesday. The FBI also has been briefed to investigate possible civil rights violations, he said.
Kraus said his intention was to fire the officer for violating policies, including the use-of-force policy. Because Dean resigned, he no longer has the protection of state civil service laws.
Kraus said Dean has not cooperated with the investigation and has not answered questions from investigators.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson by a Fort Worth police officer is not justified.
“Atiatiana was an amazing, smart woman who was unjustly taken from her family,” she said. “I cannot imagine anything worse and I am so sorry … there is nothing that can justify what happened.”
Price further commented on the image released of a gun found in Jefferson’s home. She said the gun was irrelevant and that Jefferson had a right to have a gun in her home.
Kraus said the police department has reached out to the Texas Rangers to discuss the possibility of the state law enforcement agency taking over investigation of the shooting, but nothing has been finalized. Kraus also said that he had forward information to officials with the FBI who have not responded with an answer.
It is late in the process for them to want to come in on an investigation, Kraus said.
City Manager David Cooke said a third-party group will come in to review current Fort Worth police policies and training practices.
Cooke said city officials are reaching out to experts in the field and once they finalize the plan, they will present that to the city council in the next few weeks.
Asked what he would tell residents who don’t trust police, Kraus said, “I tell them I get it. No one looked at that video and thought there’s no doubt this officer acted inappropriately,” Kraus said.
More training for officers is needed and will be done, he said.
“Most officers I have encountered over the last couple of days have said, ‘Chief, this is not how we operate,’” he said.
Cooke also revealed a panel of three nationwide experts will be convened to take a hard look at police department training, de-escalation and use of force policies. This will be separate and apart from a police monitor who is also being sought.
The panel of three experts is expected to review police procedure and policy and make recommendations to the City Council as to what what powers the monitor and the people he will supervise should possess.
At 2:25 a.m., two officers were sent to the house, police said. At 2:29 a.m., they parked nearby, but not in front of the house. They investigated on foot and went into the backyard.
The other officer who was with Dean is being treated as a witness to the shooting, Kraus says.
“The officer observed a person through a rear window in the house and fired a shot at that person,” police said in a written statement Sunday. “The officer did not announce that he was a police officer prior to shooting. What the officer observed and why he did not announce ‘Police’ will be addressed as the investigation continues.”
In a statement Saturday, Fort Worth police said the officer, “perceiving a threat,” drew his gun and “fired one shot striking the person inside the residence.”
Body camera footage of the shooting 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, killing Jefferson.
Dean was commissioned as a licensed peace officer last year in April.
Jefferson was a pre-med graduate of Xavier University in New Orleans and working on pharmaceutical equipment sales, said S. Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney retained by Jefferson’s family. She was considering going back to medical school.
Leaders and community activists called for accountability and police reform after Saturday’s shooting. The Fort Worth Police Officers Association urged Fort Worth police to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation in a statement Sunday.
Merritt said Jefferson’s death is another example of excessive use of police force in Fort Worth. Since June, Fort Worth officers have shot seven people, six of them fatally.
This shooting took place days after a Dallas police officer, Amber Guyger, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for shooting a black man who she mistook as an intruder inside of his apartment, which she inadvertently entered.
In Guyger’s case, the Texas Rangers were called upon to investigate the shooting.