Atatiana Jefferson
Atatiana Jefferson Facebook/Atatiana Jefferson

The police officer who shot dead a 28-year-old black woman in her own house last week in Fort Worth, Texas, was charged with murder on Monday.

The officer, Aaron Dean, was arrested and booked in Tarrant County Jail on for killing Atatiana Jefferson. Fort Worth Police Department stated that he has given his resignation. A bond of $200,000 has been set according to prison records accessed by the Washington Post.

The case was fast-tracked after police bodycam footage showed Dean, without identifying himself as an officer, told Jefferson to show her hands and fatally shooting her seconds after his instructions. The bullet pierced through the window and killed Jefferson in front of her 8-year-old nephew who she was babysitting.

According to official reports, a neighbour called a non-emergency line to request a welfare check after he noticed Jefferson's house door was left ajar and the lights on.

Dean, who was searching outside the house, perceived Jefferson as a "threat" when he saw her near a window and "fired one shot striking the person inside the residence," according to the police. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Aaron Dean
Aaron Dean Twitter/Fort Worth Police

Merritt, a civil rights and Jefferson's family attorney, said she was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew on Saturday before she was killed. Thinking that the person outside the house was a prowler, she went to the bedroom window to see what was going on when the officer opened fire.

"This is a pattern for that department, and it seems common when dealing with people of African American descent," Merritt was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.

The police department after investigating the footage said they knew that the incident was an abuse of power. "Nobody looked at this video and said that there's any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately," Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus was quoted as saying by AFP.

Police stated, Dean, who served as a law enforcer at the Fort Worth Police Department since April 2018, would have been officially dismissed for use of force, de-escalation and unprofessional conduct had he not resigned on his own.

Racial tensions

While police officials involved in shootings are generally not charged with murder, the case was fast-tracked due to increasing tensions between police and the black community in the southern state. Jefferson's murder was the second such case in the area where a black person was shot inside their own house.

Earlier this month, a Dallas jury held Amber Guyger, a white former Dallas police officer guilty of murdering her unarmed black neighbor, Botham Jean, in 2018. The incident was heavily criticized as the shooting occurred after Guyger mistook Jean's house as her own and shot him dead. The 31-year old police officer was sentenced to 10 years in prison.