FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) – A Texas grand jury on Friday formally indicted a white former Fort Worth police officer for murder in the shooting of a black woman through her own window during a welfare check.
Aaron Dean, 35, of Arlington, remains free on $200,000 bond, according to Tarrant County Jail records. He was initially arrested and charged with murder on Oct. 14, two days after he shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson, 28, responding to a welfare call from a neighbor who was concerned Jefferson’s front door was left ajar. She was reportedly playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew at the time.
In a heavily edited, two-minute body camera video released by police, Dean is shown walking up to the open front door, then walking down the side of the home before suddenly yelling, “put your hands up, show me your hands!” and immediately firing his service weapon inside. Dean is not shown identifying himself as police at any time.
City officials quickly apologized to Jefferson’s family for her death. Mayor Betsy Price said there was “no justification” for the “senseless” shooting and Police Chief Ed Kraus said he was going to fire Dean on Oct. 14 before he handed in his resignation instead.
Dean was first hired in August 2017 and was commissioned eight months later.
He has since refused to cooperate with investigators in separate administrative and criminal investigations into the killing.
The released body camera footage also cut to a close-up of a gun purportedly belonging to Jefferson. Her nephew told investigators she grabbed the weapon before looking out the window and being shot.
City officials dismissed claims that Dean responded appropriately due to the weapon, stating in October that Jefferson reacted like any other Texas homeowner would to noises outside of her home.
Lee Merritt, attorney for Jefferson’s family, applauded the grand jury’s murder indictment, saying the family “remains cautious” for a conviction and sentencing.
“Though her family is relieved by the news, we need to see this through to a vigorous prosecution and appropriate sentencing,” he tweeted Friday.