Officers had shown up at Jefferson's for a wellness check – and then started shooting.
The family of Atatiana Jefferson, a black woman who was shot through a window by police, has filed a lawsuit against the Texas city of Forth Worth and the officer who killed her.
According to CNN, the amended lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Texas earlier this week. In the complaint, Jefferson's family alleged that Officer Aaron Dean's conduct during "the course and scope of employment caused the untimely death of Atatiana Carr a / k / a Atatiana Jefferson".
Dean, says CNN, resigned from Forth Worth police and was charged with murder. He was charged late last winter.
CNN recalls Jefferson, 28, playing video games with her nephew at around 2 a.m. on October 12, 2019 when Dean and another officer arrived at her home.
A concerned neighbor had called the police about a wellness check – they had noticed that one of Jefferson's exterior doors was open despite the late hour. As Dean and his colleague were walking around Jefferson's house, they heard a noise coming from the house.
Jefferson, recalls CNN, had heard officers move in front of their house. Little did Jefferson know that these were law enforcement agencies. Suspecting intruders, he took a pistol from her purse and approached the window.
Dean yelled from the courtyard and immediately told Jefferson to obey his instructions.
"Hands up!" Shouted Dean. "Show me your hands!"
Photo by David von Diemar on Unsplash
Even though Dean didn't have a clear line of sight – and perhaps didn't know that Jefferson was unable to see into the dark night from a well-lit house – he opened fire and killed Jefferson.
Body camera footage, which was checked at a later date, showed that neither Dean nor his colleague had identified themselves as police.
The lawsuit states that Jefferson was killed at home "without breaking the law of the state […]. Their shooting was without provocation or cause." It has also been suggested that the city "knew, or should have known, that Defendant Aaron Dean had a pattern of escalating public encounters".
The Associated Press notes that while police performance reviews failed to mention Dean's alleged "pattern of escalating counters with the public", a manager did not have "poor communication skills" in both his encounters with the public and with colleagues were present.
The complaint further alleges Forth Worth and Dean "Atatiana Carr a / k / a Atatiana Jefferson intentionally indifferent protection from harm by systematically failing to provide its officials with adequate training and oversight to enforce the constitution of Atatiana Carr a / k / a Atatiana Jefferson to maintain rights and much-needed medical care. "
"The defendants disregarded the rights of others and their behavior was extreme and unreasonable in the circumstances," the lawsuit said.
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