Officer who killed Atiana Jefferson in own home resigns

FORT WORTH, Texas - The family of a black woman who was shot and killed by a police officer while watching her 8-year-old nephew in her own home over the weekend has called for an independent investigation into the shooting.


Fort Worth police Lt. Brandon O'Neil told reporters Sunday that the officer involved, who was not identified, failed to announce himself as a police officer before he fired the single shot that struck and killed Atatiana Jefferson, 28. The shooting happened around 2:25 a.m. Saturday after a neighbor called a non-emergency line to report door to her home's front door had been left open.


Update 2 p.m. EDT Oct. 14: Authorities are holding a news conference Monday afternoon to update the public on the investigation into Saturday's deadly shooting.


Update 12:10 p.m. EDT Oct. 14: The family of Atiana Jefferson held a news conference Monday, days after the 28-year-old was shot and killed in her home by a Fort Worth police officer.


Original report: A Fort Worth police officer did not announce that he was an officer before firing a single shot striking Atatiana Jefferson, who was inside the room with the boy, Fort Worth police Lt. Brandon O’Neil said at a news conference Sunday. 


“What the officer observed and why he did not announce ‘police’ will be addressed as the investigation continues,” O’Neil said in a statement. “The members of the Fort Worth Police Department share your very real and valid concerns, as do the members of this city and people across the country. This tragic loss of life has major ramifications for all involved, especially the family of Ms. Atatiana Jefferson.”


O’Neil declined to answer reporters’ questions and said Fort Worth police Chief Ed Kraus plans to conduct a more in-depth news conference Monday.


The family also confirmed Jefferson was watching her nephew at the time. The two typically lived with an older woman who’s been in the hospital.


Jefferson’s family is seeking answers.


“It’s another one of those situations where the people that are supposed to protect us are actually not here to protect us,” said Jefferson’s sister, Amber Carr. “You know, you want to see justice, but justice don’t bring my sister back.”


Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family, said the officer never had time to perceive a threat. 

“You didn’t hear the officer shout, ‘Gun, gun, gun,’” Merritt said. “He didn’t have time to perceive a threat. That’s murder.”


Neighbor James Smith called a nonemergency line Saturday for a welfare check after noticing the lights were on and a door was open.


Fort Worth police released bodycam footage soon after the incident Saturday. 


Video shows officers with flashlights and guns drawn scanning the perimeter of the home. The front door appears to be open although the screen door is closed. As officers continue to walk through the property, one of them sees a person standing at a dark window and yells: “Put your hands up. Show me your hands,” before firing a single shot. 


Police located a gun in a bedroom when they entered the house. Investigators did not indicate if Jefferson was holding the firearm.


The officer, who has not been identified, has been placed on administrative leave. He has been with the department since April 2018. He is scheduled to be interviewed by investigators Monday. 


The shooting comes less than two weeks after a white former Dallas police officer was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of her black neighbor inside his own apartment. Amber Guyger, 31, said during her trial that mistook Botham Jean’s apartment for her own, which was one floor below Jean’s. Merritt also represents Jean’s family.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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