When Atatiana Jefferson‘s neighbor called police, he says he expected them to go check to see if she was OK.But the officer who shot her in her own home was sent on a call that police often handle as a potential burglary.Authorities are looking into what former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean and his partner were told before arriving to Jefferson’s home.”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,” Fort Worth interim Police Chief Ed Kraus told reporters on Tuesday.Experts say that classification escalated things beyond a welfare check, and meant the officers would respond differently.
It could have been a burglary or other crime
Many times a welfare check involves a medical emergency, an elderly person living alone or a relative who is difficult to get ahold of.For those calls, police officers usually knock on someone’s door and wait for an answer. But the mindset of a police officer changes when they hear it’s an “open structure” or “open door” call.Here’s what we know about the Fort Worth police shooting
Michael “Britt” London, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, said officers have a more cautious approach and run through multiple scenarios in their heads. They could be presented with a simple case of a door left unlocked, an abandoned home, or a burglary in progress.”You are at a higher sensitivity to what is going on with that house,” London said. “You have to be ready for anything. You are taking more of your environment in consideration to be ready for a surprise if there’s one.”The first thing that comes to mind is often a burglary — that’s why officers search for signs of forced entry like a broken window or a damaged door.
Body camera footage from that night shows Dean, 34, peering through two open doors and walking around the perimeter of the house. He then pointed his weapon at a window and yelled “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” seconds before he opened fire, striking Jefferson.He resigned from the department on Monday, and was arrested and charged with murder.
His attorney, Jim Lane, told CNN the former officer is remorseful.”My client is sorry and his family is in shock,” Lane said.