The neighbor who called to request a welfare check on Atatiana Jefferson before she was shot by a cop in her own home says he feels ‘partly responsible’ for her death.
‘If I had never dialed the police department, she’d still be alive,’ James Smith, 62, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. ‘I’m shaken. I’m mad. I’m upset. And I feel it’s partly my fault.’
Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, 28, of Fort Worth, Texas, was killed by an unidentified white police officer who failed to identify himself as a cop when he entered her home Saturday morning after Smith called the local non-emergency number when he noticed her front door was open and lights were on around 2.25am.
Fifteen minutes after authorities arrived to the scene, Smith heard a gunshot and watched several officers rush Jefferson’s home.
Officers arrived at Atatiana Koquice Jefferson’s home after neighbor James Smith, 62, (pictured) reported seeing lights on and her front door open around 2.25am
An unidentified white police officer in Fort Worth fatally shot a Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, 28, inside her own home on Saturday morning
Jefferson was shot inside her home (pictured) at the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue in Fort Worth, Texas
Smith had called a non-emergency number to request a welfare check on Jefferson
Smith knew Jefferson was supposed to be home with her 8-year-old nephew and grew worried when he saw the front door open.
‘I called my police department for a welfare check,’ Smith told WFAA. ‘No domestic violence, no arguing, nothing that they should have been concerned about as far as them coming with guns drawn to my neighbor’s house.’
According to a statement from authorities, officers responded to Smith’s call and arrived to the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue.
In police bodycam footage that has been released, the officer is seen walking around the perimeter of the home and looking through windows inside the residence.
At one point the officer pulls out a flashlight when he approaches a dark area of the house and appears to gain entrance into her backyard.
Seconds later the officer looks inside a dark window, draws his gun and yells, ‘put your hands up! Show me your hands!’
He then shoots at the victim almost immediately.
Authorities say the officer perceived a threat and after firing his weapon went inside the home to administer emergency care.
The statement says officers found a firearm, but it was not revealed if Jefferson was anywhere near the weapon at the time of the incident.
Jefferson succumbed to her injuries and died at the scene.
Bodycam footage released by the Fort Worth Police Department show the moments leading up to Jefferson’s death, specifically the police officer canvasing the perimeter of her home
Noticing a figure inside the home, the officer tells the Jefferson to ‘put your hands up’ before fatally shooting her
Authorities found a firearm inside Jefferson’s home, but it was not revealed if the weapon was near her at the time of the shooting
The officer, who began his work with the department in April 2018, has been placed on administrative leave following the incident.
The Fort Worth Police Major Crime unit, Internal Affairs and the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Law Enforcement Incident Team are conducting an investigation into the shooting.
The department ended their statement by expressing their sadness over the violent incident.
‘The Fort Worth Police Department shares the deep concerns of the public and is committed to completing an extremely thorough investigation of this critical police incident to its resolution.’
Smith is heartbroken over Jefferson’s death.
‘It makes you not want to call the police department,’ he told Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
‘If you don’t feel safe with the police department, then who do you feel safe with? Do you just ignore crime or ignore something that’s not right?’
‘They tell you, ‘If you see something, say something. …Well, if you do that and it costs somebody to lose their life, it makes you not want to do that. And that’s sad.’
Community members are outraged over Jefferson’s sudden death and are calling for action.
Pastor Michael Bell of the Greater St. Stephen First Church laid bare his criticisms of the police department statements, according to WFAA reporter Cleo Greene.
Jefferson (pictured) received medical treatment from on-site officers, but succumbed to her injuries at the scene
Pictured: the press release statement detailing the incident between Jefferson and the officer
Bell said in the Twitter video: ‘We’re tied of police lying. Ain’t no perceived threat unless it’s black folk. Just our presence… are we the threat?’
‘Let’s tell it what it is,’ one community member said in a separate video, ‘she was massacred in her own house.’
‘Don’t let this rest… where we get all up in arms for about two or three weeks and we go back to business as usual.
‘We are still being murdered by the police. Something has to be done and done right away.’
The investigation is ongoing.