The Dallas Morning News
Updated at 8:57 p.m. with more reaction to the shooting.
A Fort Worth police officer shot and killed a woman inside a home early Saturday after a neighbor reported the front door was open, police said.
Atatiana Jefferson, 28, died about 2:30 a.m. in a home in the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office. Police originally said Jefferson lived at the home, but the medical examiner said she lived in Dallas. Relatives told KXAS-TV (NBC 5) she was in the home with a nephew.
Neighbor James Smith told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he was sorry he’d ever called police.
“I’m shaken. I’m mad. I’m upset. And I feel it’s partly my fault,” he told the newspaper. “If I had never dialed the police department, she’d still be alive.”
Two officers responded to the neighbor’s call within minutes and began searching outside the home.
Fort Worth police released body-camera footage that shows the officer who opened fire moving around the home, looking through a door and entering what appears to be the backyard with a flashlight.
At the 1:34 mark in the video, the officer in the yard spins toward one of the home’s windows and yells, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” before shooting into the window, all in less than 3 seconds.
In a statement issued Saturday afternoon, Fort Worth police said the officer perceived a threat and fired. Officers found a firearm when they entered the bedroom, but it’s unclear whether Jefferson was holding the weapon when she was shot.
Officers began emergency medical treatment, but Jefferson died at the scene, the medical examiner’s office said.
Fort Worth Pastor Michael Bell of the Greater St. Stephen First Church on Saturday criticized police for their characterization of the shooting in their statement, WFAA (ABC 8) reporter Cleo Greene tweeted.
“She had lights on all over,” Bell said. “We’re tired of police lying.”
Bell said there was no threat in the situation, unless police consider black people a threat.
“It doesn’t say she pointed a weapon; they found one once he went in,” Bell said, according to a video posted by Greene. “The Fort Worth Police Department murdered this woman.”
In a statement, Mayor Betsy Price asked the public to “surround Atatiana Jefferson’s family with prayers, love and support.”
“Chief Kraus and his command staff are acting with immediacy and transparency to conduct a complete and thorough investigation,” Price said in the statement, according to NBC 5.
Police did not release the name of the officer involved. He is described as a white man who has been with the Fort Worth Police Department since April 2018. The officer is on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting.
Smith said he called a nonemergency police number and asked someone to check on his neighbors. He said he heard a loud bang about 15 minutes later, the Star-Telegram reported, and saw five to 10 officers run into the home.
The neighbor told the newspaper he’d been up all night coping with the guilt that he called police to the neighborhood.
“It makes you not want to call the police department,” he told the Star-Telegram. “If you don’t feel safe with the police department, then who do you feel safe with? … They tell you, ‘If you see something, say something,” Smith told the Star-Telegram. “Well, if you do that and you cause somebody to lose their life, it makes you not want to do that. And that’s sad.”
Fort Worth police are collecting evidence to present to the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, which will decide whether any charges will be filed.
Staff writer LaVendrick Smith contributed to this report.
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