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Officer Who Fatally Shot Atatiana Jefferson Will Face Murder Charges
Justice can be hard to come by for people of color in the United States, especially those who wind up the victims of institutionalized racism and trigger-happy police officers. All too often, even in scenarios where the officers clearly didn’t behave in an appropriate or judicious manner, prosecutors and juries seem to have a hard time holding police officers accountable for decisions that they make on the job.
Dozens of high-profile killings in recent years have led to public outcry and the popularization of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has demanded public attention on the indefensible police murders of the very people they are supposed to protect and serve. After years of stagnation and frustration, it seems as though the cultural tides may finally be turning.
At least for one family in Texas, justice after a police-instigated murder may soon be possible. The tragic death of Atatiana Jefferson occurred on October 12th, 2019, while she was playing video games in her own living room with her 8-year-old nephew whom she was watching for family members. A concerned neighbor called police when he noticed that her door was left open late in the evening, fearing she may have been the victim of a break-in or similar crime.
Police officers, arriving at the scene, failed to identify themselves as law enforcement before tromping through her yard. Instead, they snuck around the occupied house, and one officer opened fire through a window at Atatiana Jefferson, killing her in front of her nephew. At no point did the officer announce himself.
While it is true that Atatiana Jefferson had a firearm in her possession at the time of her shooting, it was a legally licensed firearm that she picked up because she heard what she probably thought was a prowler outside. Texas is very firm on its stance that a homeowner has the right to defend themselves and their property against violence, which makes the actions of this officer all the more alarming and inappropriate.
Thankfully, a grand jury in Fort Worth seemingly agrees that Aaron Dean behaved with reckless disregard for the lives of others when he fired a gun into an occupied house without ever announcing himself as a police officer. On Friday, December 20th, 2019, they indicted him for murder. An indictment is a far cry from a conviction, but it is a first step in the right direction.
Activists need to remain vigilant in reporting and following up on these kinds of officer-caused shootings against innocent community members to put the pressure on government officials and courts to hold officers accountable when they cross the line and kill someone.
For previous Ladybud articles about police shootings, click here.