Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro spoke out about the senseless death of Atatiana Jefferson during Tuesday (October 15) night’s presidential debate.
The former Housing and Urban Development Secretary said, “police violence is gun violence” and received roaring cheers and applause from the audience and throughout social media.
He was the only one out of the 12-person panel to speak up in defense of the Black community as it pertains to gun violence.
When the question was asked, “How would you prevent homicide deaths committed with handguns?” Castro was ready and didn’t hold back.
“Ya’ll saw a couple days ago what happened to Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth,” the former mayor of San Antonio said. “A cop showed up at two in the morning at her house when she was playing video games with her nephew. He didn’t even announce himself and within four seconds he shot her and killed her through her own window. She was in her own home.”
Atatiana Jefferson was only 28 years old when Fort Worth police descended on her home in the early morning hours Saturday (October 12) after her neighbor James Smith called a non-emergency number to request a wellness check because the front door had been open for hours.
Atatiana was inside the home with her nephew playing the video game “Call of Duty” when they reportedly lost track of time, according to the family’s lawyer, Lee Merritt.
Former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean approached a bedroom window, and when he saw movement inside the house he yelled, “put your hands up,” seconds before firing one fatal shot through the closed window.
Atatiana was killed and her nephew Zion was there the entire time.
On Monday, Dean resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department before Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus had a chance to fire him, according to Kraus.
The former officer was arrested by Fort Worth officers while he was at his lawyer’s office. He was charged with murder and is currently out on bond.
Atatiana’s murder was eerily similar to Botham Jean’s, who was also killed in his own home by a white Dallas police officer, Amber Guyger, who was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Guyger’s sentencing took place the week before Atatiana was shot and killed by Dean.
During Tuesday’s presidential debate, Castro was certain to get his point across, saying, “I am not going to give these police officers another reason to go door to door in certain communities because police violence is also gun violence and we need to address that.”
He remarks were highly praised by communities of color and was the number-one tweeted moment of the night.
Castro tweeted a photo of that ranking and wrote, “Our policing system is in dire need of reform. As we address the epidemic of gun violence we have to recognize the role of police violence in our nation.”
Twitter exploded with comments applauding Castro’s candid approach to the topic.
“Thank you for being one of the few voices who dares to mention police violence and its devastating effects on our communities, without fear of losing police union endorsements. I appreciate your courage,” one man tweeted.
Another tweeted, “Julian Castro has the most legit plan re: ending police violence. It is research-based and would actually change the outcomes, not merely change the conversation.”
“At every single debate @JulianCastro has named the names of victims of police violence,” one woman tweeted. “EVERY SINGLE DEBATE. No matter who you support this is important and should be uplifted by anyone who calls themselves a progressive or leftist.”
Castro also tweeted Tuesday night, “We can’t have more Atatiana Jeffersons, LaQuan McDonalds or Eric Garners. We have to get guns off the streets while not exposing people to more risk.”
(Photo: Heidi Gutman/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)