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"We don't feel safe": Fort Worth residents outraged over police shooting of black woman in home

Outrage in Fort Worth over police shooting
Outrage in Fort Worth over police shooting 04:26

Fort Worth community members expressed concern and outrage at a tense city council meeting Tuesday night in the wake of a police shooting that left a 28-year-old black woman dead in her own home. Former Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean resigned Monday before he could be fired in the death of Atatiana Jefferson. Dean, who is white, has been charged with murder.

About 60 people signed up to speak to the council at its Tuesday night meeting, reports CBS Dallas-Fort Worth. The council chamber's 350-person capacity was quickly reached, and about 200 others waited outside City Hall. Inside the packed chamber, some residents chanted, "We don't feel safe."

Police said officers went to Jefferson's home early Saturday morning after her neighbor called the department's non-emergency number, saying the front door of the home had been left open. Jefferson has been up late playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew, her family has said. The department said Dean perceived a threat while outside the home and fired a shot, striking Jefferson inside through a window. 

Body camera video shows Dean fired less than a second after yelling for Jefferson to show her hands and that he never identified himself as a police officer.

Atatiana Jefferson Lee Merritt /CBS DFW

A newly-released arrest warrant says the child told investigators Jefferson heard a noise outside and grabbed her gun from her purse as she went to investigate. The boy said Jefferson had the gun pointed at the window when she was shot. Tuesday, Interim Fort Worth police chief Ed Kraus said there is "no excuse" for the shooting and vowed Dean would be held accountable.

Tuesday night, CBS DFW reports residents waited two-and-a-half hours to speak about the shooting as the council first addressed items on its scheduled agenda. Some who tried to speak while the council was still addressing other issues were escorted off the podium by city marshals, the station reports. As the council addressed a routine zoning matter, a woman called out, "Let these people speak."

More than once, Mayor Betsy Price threatened to have people removed or adjourn the meeting altogether. Around 9:30 p.m., citizens began formally addressing the issue of the police shooting, expressing shock, anger and sympathy for Jefferson's family.

"You mentioned that we need to provide Tay's nephew with anything he needs," one woman said, addressing Price and referring to Jefferson by her nickname. "He needs his aunt alive. He needs to not have witnessed her murder. He needs the city he lives in to be equitable and just and safe from poorly trained, scared, racist police officers."

Many, particularly black residents, said they don't feel safe in the city. 

Texas cop charged with murder 02:49

"The system is rigged against us and I am a walking target," one speaker, a black man, said. "Every day I pull out my driveway and on my way to work, I fear that I will be killed."

Many speakers called for the resignation of the city manager and demanded that all available body camera video be publicly released. Citizens also called for more police oversight, urging an independent advisory board to address racial profiling and use of force. 

"I think what we need is for you to acknowledge that this is a systemic, racism issue," one man said.

Kraus on Tuesday vowed that the department would work to "serve you better." He said the department was aiming to bring in a third-party group to evaluate policies, practices and training "to ensure we are above best-practice standards."

On Wednesday, religious leaders said they have reached out to the Department of Justice to push for a federal consent decree, a court-monitored reform program, to ensure police reforms in Fort Worth. 

In a statement to CBS News, a Fort Worth police spokesman said the department is focused on completing their investigation "for Atatiana Jefferson, her family, and the community in a consistent, open and transparent fashion."

"Our priority is the consistent release of vital and factual information in a timely manner to inform the public and provide a context of what occurred on all such serious matters," the spokesman, Lt. Brandon O'Neil, said in an email. "The request by this group for a federal consent decree is obviously their prerogative but it is not the department's focus or a factor that we are involved in."

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CBS News.

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