North Texas Daily

The murder of Atatiana Jefferson should have never happened

The murder of Atatiana Jefferson should have never happened

The murder of Atatiana Jefferson should have never happened
October 17
10:37 2019

Less than two weeks after Amber Guyger’s 10-year sentence for the murder of Botham Jean was announced, another innocent black person was shot and killed in their own home by a police officer on Saturday.

Atatiana Jefferson had been up late playing video games with her nephew when they heard noises outside. Jefferson went to the window to check it out when officer Aaron Dean shot and killed her. Her nephew watched her body fall to the floor.

Police were at Jefferson’s residence after receiving a call on the non-emergency line from Jefferson’s neighbor, James Smith. Smith called the police because he saw the doors were open and the lights were on and worried about the family inside.

“It makes you not want to call the police department,” Smith said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “If you don’t feel safe with the police department, then who do you feel safe with? Do you just ignore crime or ignore something that’s not right?”

 Dean resigned Monday, shortly before he was to be fired, and was later arrested for the murder of Jefferson. He is currently out on bail.

While the city of Fort Worth has been proactive in handling this situation, what kind of message does this portray to other people of color? Yes, Dean’s record reads as dishonorably discharged and he is facing murder charges. Yes, the mayor of Fort Worth acknowledged this crime as inexcusable, but none of that changes the fact that this woman is dead. Jefferson’s nephew is going to be attending counseling.

Hopefully, this situation serves as a wake up call to not only Fort Worth’s police department, but police departments across the country, too. After watching the police’s body cam footage, one can see that they had the opportunity to knock at the front door. While the main door was open, the screen door was closed. The police did not announce their presence upon arriving to the house and Dean did not say that he was a cop before shooting Jefferson. He simply said “Put your hands up. Show me your hands,” before killing her. 

Police are supposed to be trained to properly handle these situations, but the whole handling of the matter was amateur. The lack of professionalism demonstrated turned a simple welfare check into a murder scene. This police officer was trained to protect and serve, but it seems like it only applies to himself. 

It is crimes like these that make people of color afraid to reach out to law enforcement. Too many black children are taught that because of their skin, they must act with caution with police because nine times out of 10, they are already guilty in that cop’s eyes. Because of the murders of Jefferson and Jean, they are being taught that they are not even safe in their own homes because of the color of their skin. 

Not all police officers are murderers, and not all of the victims are innocent. However, with the rising number of murders of innocent people of color being committed by police officers, this latest murder is fueling the fire of racial injustices and continues to deepen the divide between police departments and the people they are supposed to protect.

Featured Illustration: Jeselle Farias

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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