Officer Refuses to Speak with Investigators about Atatiana Jefferson's Murder
|thenorthstar||Oct 18, 2019|
The former Fort Worth Police officer charged with murdering Atatiana Jefferson in her home is refusing to speak to investigators, authorities confirmed.
Aaron Dean, 34, fatally shot the 28-year-old woman on October 12 after her neighbor called police to ask for a welfare check. Jefferson was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when the two heard what they believed were prowlers. Minutes later, she was shot and killed through her window.
Dean resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department on October 14 before investigators could question him. After his resignation, he was arrested and charged with murder. Dean posted a $200,000 bond hours later and was released from jail.
The arrest warrant states that Dean has declined to speak to investigators since the shooting. Immediately after the shooting, he refused to be interviewed by detectives. His attorneys reportedly told police that he would provide a written account of the incident at a later date. As noted by reports, officers typically give an oral or written statement either immediately after a police shooting or within 72 hours for internal investigations.
However, when Dean resigned from the department, he refused to provide a written statement about what had occurred during the shooting, according to the affidavit. Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus confirmed on October 15 that Dean was not cooperating with detectives. “I cannot tell you what he felt,” Kraus told reporters. “He did not give a statement.”
The arrest affidavit also shed some light into the night Jefferson was killed. Jefferson’s nephew told police that his aunt grabbed her handgun from her purse to investigate the noise from outside. She had her weapon raised and pointed toward the window when she was shot and killed.
Lee Merritt, who is representing Jefferson’s family, said she legally owned the gun and was licensed to carry .
During the October 15th news conference, Kraus apologized for Jefferson’s death and vowed the person responsible would be held accountable.
“There’s absolutely no excuse for this incident,” the police chief told reporters, “and the person responsible will be held accountable.”
Kraus defended Jefferson’s decision to grab her gun when she believed someone was moving through her yard. The police chief added he regretted releasing an image of Jefferson’s weapon following the shooting. Police were accused of using the photo in an attempt to place blame for the shooting on Jefferson.
The arrest warrant revealed Dean never identified himself or announced his presence in Jefferson’s yard. Kraus told reporters the officers did not announce themselves or knock on the door because they were responding to an “open structure” call, prompting them to respond as if they believed the home was being burglarized.
Body camera footage shows Dean looking through two open doors in Jefferson’s house and walking around the perimeter of the building. After spotting a figure in the window, Dean yelled “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” He fired a single shot seconds later, striking Jefferson.
The second officer who responded to the call with Dean, Officer C.A. Darch, said she was only able to see Jefferson’s face through the window because Dean was standing between her and the door.
Kraus pleaded with the community not to judge the police department based on the actions of one officer. The police chief, who became emotional during the press conference, said that officers had praised him for acting quickly to condemn the shooting.
“It’s very emotional because the officers, they try hard every day to make this city better,” Kraus said, according to CBS News. “Some of our officers that are out there every weekend and most weeknights, out there trying to build these relationships, I likened it to a bunch of ants building an anthill, and then someone comes with a hose and washes it away and they just have to start from scratch and build over.”
At a news conference that same day, Jefferson’s brother Adarius Carr said the issue went further than just one officer.
“This rookie cop is not going to be the scapegoat for what happened,” Carr said. “Yes, he is going to take his punishment, but the system failed him. Whoever senior who was with him failed him. Whoever sent him out failed him. The training failed him. There is a lot that has to get fixed.”
Prosecutors are set to present evidence to a grand jury, which will determine whether to issue an indictment against Dean.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.