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Atatiana Jefferson was a 28-year-old Texas woman who was shot and killed by a Fort Worth police offer about 2 a.m. on October 12, 2019, while she was inside her home. She was shot through her bedroom window, according to body cam footage and the medical examiner’s report.
The Fort Worth Police Department said they were called to Jefferson’s home for a welfare check after a neighbor reported her front door to the house was open.
The shooting happened just weeks after a Dallas police officer, Amber Guyger, was found guilty of murder after accidentally shooting Botham Jean when she mistook his apartment for her own. Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Days after her sentencing, a witness in her trial, Joshua Brown, was shot to death in what police said was a drug deal gone bad. The name of the Fort Worth officer who shot Jefferson has not been released.
Here is what you need to know about Atatiana Jefferson and the shooting:
1. The Police Officer Was in Atatiana Jefferson’s Backyard & Shot Her Through Her Bedroom Window
The police officer, whose name has not been released, was in Atatiana Jefferson’s backyard around 2:25 a.m. on October 12 and shot her through her window, killing her, WFAA reported. Jefferson’s name was released by officials and local media.
The officer responded to a call that a door was open at the home in the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue in Fort Worth, Texas. A map with the approximate location of the shooting is below.
The officer started out by standing outside the open front door, where the screen was shut, and then walked to the side of the house. The lights in the house were on inside when the officer arrived. The video does not show the officer announcing himself at the doorway or knocking.
The officer opened a gate to the backyard, walked into the backyard, and shined a light on different parts of the exterior of the house. He saw a person watching him from inside the house and yelled from the backyard, “Put your hands up. Show me your hands!” The officer quickly shot through the window. Bodycam footage seems to indicate he shot within a second or so of saying “Put your hands up.”
MY BLOOD IS BOILING. The Fort Worth Police shot and killed 28 year old Atatiana Jefferson in her own home. They shot her through her bedroom window. She broke no laws and did nothing wrong! Police were called to investigate an open door. We are demanding justice RIGHT NOW.
This is the window where the Fort Worth Police Officer shot & killed Atatiana Jefferson in her own home. He shot her through her own bedroom window. She broke no laws & did nothing wrong. We are demanding justice immediately. This was illegal. It violates both the law & policy
Officials said the officer “perceived a threat,” WFAA noted. Fort Worth police said there was a firearm in the residence, but they didn’t say if the officer saw the firearm or not, WFAA noted. In Texas, it’s common for residents to have firearms.
According to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office, Jefferson was in her bedroom when she was shot.
2. The Officer Was Responding to a Call for a Welfare Check Made to a Non-Emergency Number
The officer was responding to a call about an “open structure” (meaning an open door) that was made at 2:25 a.m. Both of the neighbor’s vehicles were in the driveway. Units were dispatched at 2:25 a.m., according to the police timeline shared in the raw video footage. The call was made because the neighbors are usually home at that time but the door is never open. Units arrived at the scene at 2:28 and 2:29.
James Smith, the neighbor who made the call, told WFAA that he called a non-emergency police number to ask for a welfare check. He was concerned because the lights were on and the front door was open.
Smith said the officer’s response didn’t make sense. He told WFAA that there was no domestic violence and no arguing. He said: “nothing that they should have been concerned about as far as them coming with guns drawn to my neighbor’s house.”
3. Edited Bodycam Footage Shows the Shooting
Police released the bodycame footage of the shooting. The edited, raw footage is embedded below, as released by the police.
WARNING: This footage may be disturbing for some to see.
The body cam footage is edited and includes blurred clips of the firearm in the home and cuts off immediately after the shooting. Media have requested unedited body cam footage and the dispatch audio from the neighbor’s call requesting a welfare check.
At one point just before the shooting, a figure that appears to be Jefferson can be seen looking out her window.
After the shooting, officers provided emergency medical care, but Jeffesron died on the scene.
4. Atatiana Jefferson Was Playing Video Games With Her Nephew, Attorney Lee Merritt Said
Attorney Lee Merritt, who represented Botham Jean’s family and who investigated the death of Joshua Brown, a witness in Amber Guyger’s trial, shared the officer’s bodycam footage on Twitter. He said on Twitter that Atatiana Jefferson, known by friends as “Tay,” was playing video games with her eight-year-old nephew in her home when she was shot. She thought she heard a noise in her backyard and was shot when she went to investigate, he said.
The Fort Worth police released the following press release about the shooting:
In their statement, the Fort Worth Police said, in part: “The individual, a black female, who resides at the residence succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased on the scene. The officer, a white male who has been with the department since April of 2018, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome [of] the critical police incident investigation.”
5. She Studied Biology & Chemistry in College & Was Helping Her Mother Who Had Recently Gotten Sick
According to her Facebook page (which was last updated publicly in 2018), Atatiana Jefferson worked at Xavier University of Louisiana, where she also studied biology and majored in chemistry with a minor in pre-med. She was working in pharmaceutical equipment sales, her GoFundMe shares.
She was a dedicated student. This 2015 video shared by Jefferson on YouTube shows her doing an AP lab exercise.
In 2014, Tay Jefferson shared a petition on her page and wrote: “When you do the crime you do the time. Crimes cannot go unpunished no matter what they are. It makes a mockery of the U.S justice system if people feel comfortable enough to commit crimes. Whether this was his normal behavior or not, he should still be dealt with like any other person in that situation. If I speed I will get a ticket. I may not normally speed but that doesn’t change the fact that I have a ticket. Unless this man has a mental illness or a massive brain tumor that impaired his judgement he needs to be properly dealt with.”
This 2012 video from her YouTube page shows her working on a Spanish project for class.
Her Facebook cover photo was a photo of pretzels arranged to spell out the word “love.”
Lee Merritt said that Jefferson was living with her mother to help out because her mother has a medical condition. Her GoFundMe elaborates that her mom had recently gotten very sick and Jefferson was taking care of the house. She was very close to her family.
Pastors and activists in the community are seeking answers, wanting to know why she was shot and killed.
A GoFundMe has been started for Jefferson’s family. When this story was updated, more than $10,000 had been raised. Just 30 minutes later, that number jumped to more than $14,000.