In some of the fastest action we’ve ever seen, Officer Aaron Dean was arrested and charged with murder for the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson.
Early Saturday morning a neighbor of Atatiana’s called the police for a welfare check because he saw the front door open. Instead of calling it a welfare check, the dispatcher relayed the information in a way to indicate an open structure. That doesn’t change the fact that Officer Dean violated several agency policies in how he responded which resulted in an innocent woman being shot to death in her home, in front of an 8 year old child.
Officer Dean was placed on administrative leave and had been called to report in at which time the agency was anticipating firing him but before he came in Aaron Dean
resigned. (You can see the actual resignation letter here). According to police, Aaron Dean was being uncooperative with the investigation. At 7:15 pm today, the Fort Worth Police Department sent out a tweet saying that Dean had been arrested and was being charged with murder.
In a press conference which included Mayor Betsy Price, Interim Police Chief Ed Krauss apologized for the release of the photo of a gun that was found in the home, saying that it was a poor decision. Mayor Betsy Price emphatically stated that the gun was irrelevant and apologized to the family of Atatiana Jefferson. She also released a statement to both Atatiana’s nephew and to the neighbor who called the police and is now devastated that his actions, made out of concern, cost Atatiana her life.
To Mr. James Smith, I know you are hurting today as well. You called police to check on your neighbor because you cared about her safety and wellbeing. You were being a wonderful neighbor and doing the right thing to make sure she was ok. You are the type of person we all want living next door, watching out for us. Atatiana’s death has eroded your own your sense of safety and trust in law enforcement. I’m truly sorry.
To Atatiana’s nephew, who has witnessed an unspeakable loss — sorry doesn’t really cut it. This entire city needs to surround him with prayers, support, and anything his family needs.”
No information has been given on whether there is a bond amount for Aaron Dean and if so, how much the bond is.
This incident, along with the Guyger case, should be a strong warning to law enforcement everywhere that people will no longer bend over backwards to give the benefit of the doubt to officers. Every single agency should be looking at its policies and re-evaluating its training to ensure the safety of the officers AND the public. Law enforcement agencies have to move away from the attitude that certain people are more dangerous than others. If you go in with an escalated threat level it won’t take much for a bad decision to be made which will result in tragedy for everyone.