Texas police chief commends Fort Worth's response to fatal police shooting

Fort Worth's mayor and police chief both promised a swift and transparent response to the fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson in her own home early Saturday morning.

Andy Harvey, who served in the Dallas Police Department before becoming the police chief in Palestine, said the city's response was what it had to be.

“[Police] need to be upfront about everything as soon as we can,” Harvey explained.

Harvey, who wrote the book ‘Excellence in Policing,’ and who is now teaching and training police, said Fort Worth officials did everything right on Monday in the aftermath of the shooting and killing of Atatiana Jefferson by a Fort Worth officer.

“Managing crisis is something we have to be able to do well,” he added. ”We have to be able to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly, as hard as it may be.”

Fort Worth officers were dispatched for a welfare check at Jefferson's home after a neighbor called police, thinking it was strange the front door was left open.

Aaron Dean was one of two responding officers. A second officer's body camera showed Dean creeping around the side of the home with gun and flashlight in hand.

Dean looked through a window, saw a figure inside the home, and police said he perceived a threat.

He did not identify himself as an officer before saying, “Put your hands up. Show me your hands," and immediately shooting through the window.

Jefferson’s 8-year-old nephew witnessed this unwarranted deadly force.

Dean, who has been an officer with Fort Worth PD since April 2018, resigned Monday morning.

“Had the officer not resigned, I would have fired him for violations of several policies, including our use of force policy, our de-escalation policy, and unprofessional conduct,” Interim Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus said.

Kraus also said the department expects to announce by Tuesday whether Dean, who Kraus said has not been cooperative, will face criminal charges.

The FBI has also been asked to review the case for possible federal civil rights violations.

Fort Worth's city manager said they will begin interviews next month for a police monitor position.

National experts have been contacted to create a panel to review the department’s policies and training practices.

“We have to come back and say, “Community, this is what we're doing about it. This is what we want to do about it so that this does not happen again,’” Harvey said. 

And Harvey said Fort Worth's leaders did just that.

“The main thing is being open and honest, and answering those tough questions. The family deserves it, the community deserves it,” Harvey added.

Harvey added that this incident has certainly damaged the Fort Worth public's trust in their department, but the transparency and swift steps announced to look at the department’s policies and practices shows they not only want to, but are trying to do the right thing following an incident that was so very wrong.