Just moments before she was shot and killed by a Fort Worth police officer inside her home, Atatiana Jefferson told her nephew she heard someone outside, so she got her handgun from her purse and pointed it out a window, according to an arrest warrant affidavit released Tuesday.
Standing on the other side of the window that Saturday night in Texas was Aaron Dean, who never identified himself as a police officer despite yelling for Jefferson to put her hands up, according to the affidavit. He then fired through the window, killing Jefferson, 28, in her home.
At a news conference Tuesday, Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus — who has said he would have fired Dean had he not resigned — defended Jefferson's decision to arm herself.
"[It] makes sense that she would have a gun if she felt that she was being threatened or there was someone in the backyard," Kraus said.
Fort Worth police have been criticized by Jefferson's family and members of the community after including a picture of the handgun while releasing information about the deadly police shooting. No information about where the gun was in relation to Jefferson had been released at the time, but on Tuesday, the new documents revealed Jefferson had been holding the weapon at the time of the shooting, and that she believed someone was on her property when she grabbed it moments before the shooting.
S. Lee Merritt, an attorney representing her family, has pointed out that Jefferson was inside her own home and licensed to own and carry the gun, and criticized the two officers who responded for not identifying themselves at the scene.
He also criticized the police department, saying it had provided Dean with a defense within the arrest warrant, even though Kraus had publicly condemned the shooting.
"It's only appropriate that Ms. Jefferson would have a gun," Merritt told reporters Tuesday. "When you think there's someone prowling around in the back at 2 a.m. in the morning, you may need to arm yourself."
According to the warrant, Jefferson had been playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew in the bedroom when she told him she had heard noises outside the window.
Her nephew told police she took the handgun and pointed it at the window right before she was shot.
Officer C.A. Darch, Dean's partner, told investigators she saw Jefferson's face through the window when Dean fired his weapon, but the warrant does not say whether the officers saw Jefferson holding the weapon before firing.
According to the affidavit, Dean declined to give investigators an interview. Instead, his attorney told police he would give a written statement later. However, on Monday, Dean resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department and refused to provide the written statement.
Dean was later taken into custody and booked on suspicion of murder. He was released after posting a $200,000 bond.
Merritt, at a press conference with Jefferson's family, said they were encouraged by Kraus and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price acknowledging some of the mistakes made during the shooting, but said the police department's policies and training also contributed to the incident.
"We're not used to a mayor or a police chief making those kinds of statements, but right now they're just words until they, she, actually comes up with some policies and practices and puts them into play," he said.