A white Fort Worth police officer shot and killed a black woman inside of her home early Saturday (Oct. 12) after police responded to a call for a welfare check, authorities said. The police were called to the home by a neighbor because the house’s doors were open. The woman, who has been identified as 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson, died at around 2:30 a.m., according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.
James Smith, who called a non-emergency police number, said that he noticed the doors of the home were open and the lights were on, which he deemed unusual. He then said he heard a loud bang about 15 minutes later, then he saw five to 10 officers run into the home. Smith told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he wishes he had never called the police. “I’m shaken. I’m mad. I’m upset. And I feel it’s partly my fault,” he told the publication. “If I had never dialed the police department, she’d still be alive.”
Two officers responded to the call and began searching outside of the home. Fort Worth police has since released body-camera footage, which shows the officers using flashlights to check the home. They also inspected two doors that were open with closed screen doors, according to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. One officer appeared to have seen a figure through the window and yelled, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” with his gun drawn. He then fired a single shot through the window, killing Jefferson.
Officers entered the home and provided medical attention to Jefferson, but she was pronounced dead, NBC News reports.
In the video footage, the officer did not identify himself. Police said the officer, who has been on the force since April 2018, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
The police department released a statement, which said, “Perceiving a threat, the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot striking the person inside the residence. Officers entered the residence locating the individual and a firearm and began providing emergency medical care.”
NBC News reports that a gun was found inside of the home, but it is unclear if the woman was near it at the time of the shooting.