A WHITE police officer shot dead a black woman inside her own home after a neighbour called police when he noticed her front door was open.
Atatiana Jefferson, 28, died in the bedroom of her Texas home at around 2.30am on Saturday after the police officer fired one bullet through her window.
Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was shot dead in her own home by a white police officer[/caption]
Bodycam footage shows the officer firing a fatal shot through the window[/caption]
Shocking bodycam footage shows the officer peering into her window and shouting: “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!”
Less than a second later, he fired the fatal shot.
Officers then entered the house and started giving Atatiana emergency medical care – but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Atatiana was inside the house playing video games with her nephew when she was shot dead.
Her neighbour, James Smith, 62, had called the Fort Worth Police Department’s non-emergency number after he noticed her front door was open and lights were on around 2.10am.
He thought this was unusual and knew Atatiana was home with her young nephew – so he called the police to check on her wellbeing.
Around 15 minutes after his call, officers arrived at the scene.
Smith was shocked when he heard a gunshot and watched several officers rush Jefferson’s home.
“I don’t know what went on in the house, but I know that she wasn’t a threat,” he said.
There was “no domestic violence, no arguing, nothing that they should have been concerned with as far as them coming with guns drawn to my neighbour’s house,” he told WFAA-TV.
The bodycam footage shows officers searching the outside of the home in Fort Worth.
Atatiana’s relatives’ attorney said she was playing video games with her nephew when they heard what they believed to be a prowler outside.
When she went to the window to see what was going on, she was shot, the attorney said.
Police said that the officer, who joined the department in April 2018, saw a person standing inside the house near a window.
“Perceiving a threat, the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot striking the person inside the residence,” the department said in a news release.
“Officers entered the residence locating the individual and a firearm and began providing emergency medical care.”
Police released photographs of a gun they said that they found in a bedroom at the house.
They did not say whether Atatiana, who worked in pharmaceutical equipment sales, was holding the weapon when the officer shot her.
The police department is collecting evidence, witness statements and body camera footage to present to prosecutors.
S. Lee Merritt, an attorney who handles civil rights cases that involve police misconduct allegations, said his office was representing Atatiana’s family.
“Before law enforcement goes about their pattern of villainizing this beautiful peaceful woman, turning her into a suspect, a silhouette, or threat, let me tell you about [her,]” Mr Merritt wrote.
“She was a premed graduate of Xavier University. She was very close to her family. She was the auntie that stayed up on Friday night playing video games with her 8 year old nephew.”
“Her mom had recently gotten very sick, so she was home taking care of the house and loving her life.
“There was no reason for her to be murdered. None. We must have justice,” Mr Merritt wrote.
Mr Smith, who has lived on the street for 50 years, said he feels as though the shooting was his fault – even though he was just trying to be a good neighbour.
“I’m shaken. I’m mad. I’m upset. And I feel it’s partly my fault,” he said.
“If I had never dialled the police department, she’d still be alive.”
Mayor Betsy Price called on Fort Worth to support Atatiana’s family following the shooting.
“Writing a statement like this is tragic and something that should never be necessary,” she said.
“A young woman has lost her life, leaving her family in unbelievable grief.
“All of Fort Worth must surround Atatiana Jefferson’s family with prayers, love and support.”