Fort Worth, TX — Atatiana Jefferson, 28, had committed no crime, had harmed no one, and was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew Saturday when she heard a noise in the backyard and went to investigate. As Jefferson walked to the window to see who the prowler was, the prowler opened fire and murdered her inside her home. Because this prowler wears a badge, however, instead of investigating a murder, the police department is conducting damage control by assassinating Jefferson’s character.
The murder took place early Saturday morning when an officer was dispatched to Jefferson’s home because her door was slightly ajar. To be clear, however, Jefferson had storm doors, which were closed. Only the door inside was open, which is common for people who have the glass outer door. Instead of simply walking up to Jefferson’s door and ringing the doorbell or knocking, the officer crept around the home like a cowboy. When he spotted Jefferson in the window, he opened fire and killed her. According to her family, Jefferson’s 8-year-old nephew was in the room when he watched his aunt “Tay” fall to the ground and die.
“I mean it’s senseless. My daughter… had her whole life in front of her,” father Marquis Jefferson said. He then went on to note how he will not be offering hugs to his daughter’s killer like Botham Jean’s brother did in the courtroom after Amber Guyger was found guilty of his murder.
“I don’t want no hug. That’s my one and only daughter. I’ll never forget that,” Jefferson said.
In a rare move, the body camera footage was almost immediately released, showing the killing take place. As the video shows, her killer never once announced himself as a police officer. This detail was also pointed out by Fort Worth police spokesman Lt. Brandon O’Neil.
“The officer did not announce that he was a police officer prior to shooting,” O’Neil said. “What the officer observed and why he did not announce police will be addressed as the investigation continues.”
In the video, the still unnamed officer sneaked around the side of Jefferson’s home without announcing himself. Any rational person would perceive this action as a threat. However, Jefferson never attacked the officer and instead walked up to a window to get a closer look. When the extremely trigger happy and fearful officer saw her in the window, he made one short announcement before immediately killing her.
“Put your hands up. Show me your hands!” the officer said before immediately opening fire less than a second later.
After releasing the body camera footage, police held a press conference during which they took to smearing Jefferson. During the conference, police claimed the officer was “perceiving a threat” when he opened fire on Jefferson. The Fort Worth Police Department then reportedly released an image of a firearm with zero explanation of why they did so.
As WFAA reported, “during Sunday’s brief press conference, O’Neil did not answer questions about why police released images of a gun in Jefferson’s bedroom, what those images were intended to convey, or what may have prompted the officer to fire his weapon.”
Nevertheless, the image of the gun was shown and Jefferson was painted as some armed criminal worthy of execution.
According to police, the officer who killed Jefferson — who should be in a jail cell right now — has been placed on paid leave, while the department “investigates.”
Police also refused to release any details about why the officer responded to a non-emergency call about an open door like he trying to rob the place.
The neighbor who made the call about the open door now regrets ever calling the police in the first place.
“It makes you not want to call the police department. Because not just Dallas or other incidents, if you don’t feel safe with the police department, then who do you feel safe with?” Jefferson’s neighbor, 62-year-old James Smith said. “Do you just ignore crime or ignore something that’s not right? They tell you if you see something, say something. Well if you do that and you cause somebody to lose their life it makes you not want to do that and that’s sad.”
After Sunday’s press conference, residents of Fort Worth took to protesting, calling for the officer who killed Jefferson to be locked up.
“You cannot continue to kill people and justify it because they are law enforcement,” Rev. Kyev Tatum said, according to WFAA-TV.
Jefferson was a Xavier University of Louisiana graduate who had no criminal record. She had committed no crime and harmed no one. She was murdered in her own home by people who claim to protect society. And because her killer was one of these people, instead of launching a murder investigation and arresting the culprit, the victim was blamed for her gun.
Below is the body camera footage and the 911 call.
Attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing Jefferson’s family, organized a GoFundMe for Jefferson and her family, which so far has raised more than $149,000.