Texas police officer shoots woman to death inside her home

A Fort Worth police officer checking out a residence with an open door opened fire on a 28-year-old woman inside her home.

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By Dennis Romero

A Fort Worth, Texas, police officer called to check on a residence with a door that was ajar opened fire on a woman, killing her inside the home, authorities said.

The shooting early Saturday occurred less than two weeks after a police officer in nearby Dallas was found guilty of murder for fatally shooting a man in his home in 2018. In both cases, the officers are white and the victims were African American.

In the Fort Worth shooting, which occurred at 2:25 a.m. Saturday, the victim was identified by the Tarrant County medical examiner as Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, 28, according to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.

Body camera footage shows the perspective of the officer outside the home, peering inside a window using a flashlight, spotting someone inside standing near a window and telling her, "Put your hands up — show me your hands," before shooting seconds later. At no point does he identify himself as an officer.

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Fort Worth police say one shot was fired.

Officers entered the home and began providing emergency medical care to the woman, but she was pronounced dead, police said.

Atatiana Jefferson.Family Photo

A gun was found inside the home, police added, but it wasn't clear if the woman was near it at the time of the shooting.

Neighbor James Smith said he called a police non-emergency number at about 2 a.m. when he noticed a door to Jefferson's residence had been open since 10 p.m. He had called to make sure his neighbor was alright and was stunned by what transpired afterward.

"If you don't feel safe with the police department, then who do you feel safe with?" Smith said.

Amber Carr, Jefferson's sister, questioned the officer's tactics.

"What kind of training is that? What kind of training is that? You don't announce yourself, you don't let a person know?" she said, her voice breaking.

Lee Merritt, an attorney for Jefferson's family, said Jefferson had been babysitting her 8-year-old nephew at the time of the shooting.

The officer, who has been with the department since April 2018, was placed on administrative leave while the shooting is under investigation. The department's major case and internal affairs units and the Tarrant County district attorney's law enforcement incident team will conduct the investigation.

Police said evidence would be forwarded to the district attorney "to determine the final outcome."

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price released a statement saying that Police Chief Ed Kraus and his command staff would act with "immediacy and transparency to conduct a complete and thorough investigation."

"Writing a statement like this is tragic and something that should never be necessary. A young woman has lost her life, leaving her family in unbelievable grief. All of Fort Worth must surround Atatiana Jefferson's family with prayers, love and support," Price said.

The bodycam footage, with the exception of imagery of the interior of the home, would be released, police said.

The September 2018 killing of Botham Jean in Dallas sparked national headlines. Amber Guyger, the then-officer convicted of murdering her neighbor, said she had mistakenly entered the wrong apartment after a long shift on patrol when she believed someone was in her home, and then she opened fire.

Guyger was sentenced to 10 years behind bars in a widely watched trial. In a divisive moment that went viral, Jean's 18-year-old brother hugged Guyger in the courtroom after she received her sentence.

"If you truly are sorry — I know I can speak for myself — I forgive you," Brandt Jean told her.

In an interview with CBS affiliate KTVT in Dallas-Fort Worth, Jefferson's father called her death "senseless."

"I don't want no hug. That's my one and only daughter," Marquis Jefferson said. "I'll never forget that."

Dennis Romero

Dennis Romero writes for NBC News and is based in Los Angeles.

Elizabeth Chuck contributed.