Larhonda Young is a retired Fort Worth police officer. Yet, she too is “afraid” when she gets stopped by cops and agreed with Atatiana Jefferson’s family, who are seeking reform in the police department.
“As a Black female former police officer, I’m afraid when I get stopped,” she told CBS News on Monday (October 14).
Young added that she doesn’t trust the department’s officers, and she feels Jefferson’s death represents a clear breach of protocol, CBS reports.
Atatiana was at home Saturday (October 12) playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when Fort Worth police descended on the house after receiving a call from her neighbor James Smith, who requested a wellness check due to the door being open for hours.
Officer Aaron Dean saw movement inside the home and yelled, “Put your hands up,” before shooting through the window. The 28-year-old woman was shot and killed in her own home. Her nephew Zion was there the entire time.
On Monday, Dean resigned from the police department before Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus had a chance to fire him. Dean was arrested by fellow Fort Worth police officers while he was at his attorney’s office. He is currently out on bond.
In a news conference on Tuesday (October 15), Kraus said it may not have been clear that there was no emergency after Smith called to report, “The front doors have been open since 10 o’clock.”
“If they thought they had something more criminal, then a more tactical response would be warranted,” he told reporters.
While Smith called a non-emergency number to request a wellness check, Kraus said the officers responded to what “they believed” was an open structure call.
“They believed they were responding to an open structure call and not just a wellness check,” Kraus told reporters. “The information came from the neighbor to the call takers and while it was relayed to the dispatch it was determined to be an open structure call.”
When asked what the procedure of an open structure call was in comparison to a wellness check, Kraus said, “Depends on what the officers believe at the time.”
A gun was found inside the home, and the family’s attorney, Lee Merritt, later confirmed that Atatiana was not only licensed to have a gun, but to carry one.
“The gun was found just inside the room but it makes sense that she would have a gun if she felt that she was being threatened or that there was someone in the backyard,” Kraus said during Tuesday’s news conference.
No officer rang the doorbell or knocked on the door.
“Officers are shooting before assessing the situation,” retired Fort Worth officer Young told CBS. “If that officer had simply knocked on the door, that young lady would be alive today.”
Atatiana’s brother, Adarius, said the gunshot through a window is “drive-by material.”
“As the city manager eluded to yesterday, we’re looking at bringing in a third party group to come in and evaluate our policies and practices and out training to ensure that we are above best practice standards,” Kraus added.
City officials in Fort Worth have also presented a preliminary case to the FBI to review Dean’s actions for possible civil rights violations, CBS reports.