Family Seeks Answers After Police Kill Texas Woman at Home - NBC New York
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Family Seeks Answers After Police Kill Texas Woman at Home

The shooting early Saturday occurred less than two weeks after former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced for murder after fatally shooting her neighbor Botham Jean in 2018

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    Family of Woman Shot, Killed Inside Home by FW Police Retains Attorney

    The family of a woman shot and killed by a Fort Worth police officer in her own home have retained an attorney. (Published Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019)

    The family of a woman shot and killed by a Fort Worth police officer in her own home have retained an attorney.

    The shooting happened just before 2:30 a.m. Saturday on the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue. Inside the home, the family of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson said she was watching her 8-year-old nephew.

    "She didn't do anything wrong, but she's inside of her home, trying to protect her home and my son that's inside. She's not a threat. She's a college graduate," Jefferson's older sister Amber Carr said. "You want to see justice, but justice don't bring my sister back."

    Police responded to the home after a call from a neighbor indicating a front door was open. The neighbor, James Smith, said he noticed all of the lights were on. There was no movement in the house, so he called the non-emergency line asking for a welfare check.

    "There was no reason for her to be dead, because there was nothing violent going on, there was no distress at this particular property. They had no reason to come here with guns drawn," Smith said. "I'm shaken, I'm mad and I'm upset, and I feel like it's probably my fault because if I had never called the police department, she'd still be alive."

    Body camera video released by the Fort Worth Police Department shows the officer walking around outside the house with a flashlight. He then stops, points his flashlight at a window and then draws his gun after seeing a person watching himself from inside the house.

    The officer is heard commanding, "Put your hands up, show me your hands" before firing his weapon once.

    In a press release, police said the shot was fired after "perceiving a threat" but did not specify what the threat was. Once officers entered the home, they located Jefferson and a firearm and began providing emergency medical care.

    The family's attorney, Lee Merritt, said it was "reckless and irresponsible" to release a picture of the firearm found without context of how it was used – if, at all.

    "It's something the community has seen over and over again where the character of the victim gets called into question," Merritt told reporters. "There was nothing nefarious or illegal about owning a firearm and they presented in nowhere that firearm was contributory towards the use of deadly force here."

    The shooting early Saturday occurred less than two weeks after former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced for murder after fatally shooting her neighbor Botham Jean in 2018.

    Community activists voiced their frustration, pledging support for Jefferson's family.

    "We will not stand down on this one. There's no Kumbaya for this one. There's no forgiveness for this one. There's no judge-hugging-officer for this one," Brotherhood Movement member Malikk Ed said.

    Merritt said the police department has reached out to the family; however, they [family] are reluctant to speak with them.

    "From the moment we got the call it's been more inconceivable and more confusing," Jefferson's aunt Venitta Body said. "There's been nothing done to take away that confusion."

    As of Saturday evening, the identity of the officer has not released by the Fort Worth Police Department. He has been with the department since April 2018 and has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

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    Pastor Kyev Tatum with the New Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church is among other community leaders who have voiced their concerns regarding this incident.

    Pastor Tatum is specifically calling federal intervention, suggesting an agency or entity outside of local authorities should handle the investigation going forward.

    He pointed to the number of recent officer-involved shootings in Fort Worth. The department did not comment on the speific call for federal involvement but they confirmed to NBC 5 Saturday, there have been six deadly shootings involving a police officer with the Fort Worth Police Department since June 1.

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    "They made a horrible, horrible call and it caused a young lady her life and Fort Worth must man up, stand up and denounce this kind of police brutality," Tatum said Saturday.

    Other faith leaders are calling for a thorough but expedited investigation.

    "I know about urban welfare. I know about guerilla welfare. Who is going to teach my village what is it like to survive in your own home?" Bishop Mark Kirkland with the Greater Saint Mark Church questioned. "I'm calling on the Chief of Police, I'm calling on the Mayor. I'm calling on all the leadership of this city to move with lightening speed because for this thing to go at a horse and buggy pace would be catastrophic."

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    Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price released this statement Saturday evening:

    "Writing a statement like this is tragic and something that should never be necessary. 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.

    Chief Kraus and his command staff are acting with immediacy and transparency to conduct a complete and thorough investigation. More details are forthcoming and the Tarrant County District Attorney Law Enforcement Incident Team office will ultimately receive this case."