(Reuters) - A Texas woman was shot dead by a Fort Worth police officer in her home after she heard noises outside, picked up a handgun and pointed it at a window, the officer’s arrest warrant showed on Tuesday.
Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew around 2:30 am on Saturday when she heard sounds in her backyard, according to the warrant for former Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean’s arrest for alleged murder.
The noises were Dean, 34, and his partner moving around the back of her home, without announcing their presence, after they were sent to investigate why her front door was open.
Dean resigned on Monday before he could be fired for breaching a string of police policies by shooting Jefferson dead with a single shot through a bedroom window, according to Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus.
Dean’s attorney, Jim Lane, told Fort Worth’s NBC 5 television station his client “is sorry” for “the tragedy” and his family “is in shock.” Lane did not respond to a request for further comment.
Jefferson’s death stirred outrage in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which is still reeling from this month’s conviction of white former Texas police officer Amber Guyger for murdering Botham Jean, a black man, as he sat in his home eating ice cream.
Lee Merritt, the attorney for Jefferson’s family, said Fort Worth police have fatally shot seven people in under six months and called for Dean’s bosses to also be held accountable for his actions.
The CLEAT police union said it sent staff at its Fort Worth office home after receiving threats following what it called “absolutely false” media reports it posted a $200,000 bond for Dean. The union said it was paying a portion of his legal fees.
Kraus said there was “absolutely no excuse” for Jefferson’s death and said she had every right to defend herself under Texas law.
“It makes sense she would have a gun if she felt threatened or if there was someone in the backyard,” an emotional Kraus said, adding that her death had “eroded the trust we have built with the community.”
Jefferson’s nephew Zion told police his aunt heard noises coming from outside and took her handgun from her purse, according to the warrant.
“Jefferson raised her handgun, pointed it toward the window, then Jefferson was shot and fell to the ground,” the warrant recounted the nephew telling police, adding that his aunt yelled out in pain.
Fort Worth has called on independent experts to evaluate the police department’s practices, policies and training following the shooting, Kraus said.
Reporting by Andrew Hay; Editing by Cynthia Osterman