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Fort Worth police shooting spurs calls for transparency, justice in death of 28-year-old woman

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A white Fort Worth police officer shot and killed a black woman in a home while responding to a request for a wellness check.

A white police officer shot and killed a black Fort Worth woman in a home while responding to a request for a wellness check Saturday, police said.

Body camera footage shows the officer surveying the area around the house after seeing an open front door. The officer opens the backyard gate, notices movement in the window and shouts, “Put your hands up, show me your hands.” Within a breath of this order, the officer fired a shot through the window killing 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson, according to the Fort Worth Police Department.

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Jefferson’s 8-year-old nephew was in the room at the time she was killed, police said.

Officials said the officer did not announce himself as law enforcement prior to giving orders or shooting the woman. They said that will be addressed in their investigation.

In the video released by Fort Worth police, the department magnified a frame of the video and labeled it as a weapon laying in the bedroom. A department press release also noted that a firearm was found in the home. The department’s statement does not say if the woman was holding the gun or what threat the officer perceived.

At a press conference Sunday, police declined to say whether the woman used the weapon in a way that made the officer feel threatened. They also declined to say why they released information about the gun if they weren’t going to explain its relevance.

The officer, whose identity was not released, has been placed on administrative leave. Jefferson’s death comes less than two weeks after former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, was sentenced to 10 years for the murder of Botham Jean in his Dallas home. Guyger mistook Jean’s apartment for her own and shot and killed him after entering it.

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The murder of Jean, who was black, sparked emotional conversations about the relationship between race, policing and the American criminal justice system in not only Dallas but across the United States.

WFAA-TV reported Sunday that activists, protestors and Fort Worth residents gathered near Jefferson’s home for a vigil that became a protest march. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price attended the vigil and told WFAA there would be a third-party investigation into the shooting.

Jefferson’s neighbor, 62-year-old James Smith asked for a wellness check after noticing the woman’s door was open, something he found unusual. Smith told the Washington Post he feels he’s partially to blame for Jefferson’s death because if he hadn’t made the call, Jefferson would be alive.

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“It makes you not want to call the police department. Because not just Dallas or other incidents, if you don’t feel safe with the police department, then who do you feel safe with?” Smith said. “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 you cause somebody to lose their life it makes you not want to do that and that’s sad.”

At Sunday’s press conference, police declined to comment on how officers are supposed to respond to welfare calls.

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The same conversation about how police interact with people of color spurred in Dallas seems to be forming around the shooting of Jefferson, with community officials making calls for justice similar to those heard after the shooting of Jean.

Community members gathered in Greater Saint Stephen First Church where the Rev. Kyev Tatum demanded transparency from Fort Worth police.

“You cannot continue to kill people and justify it because they are law enforcement,” he said, according to WFAA-TV.

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Lee Merritt, the Dallas-based civil rights attorney that is representing Jean’s family said on Facebook that he is now representing Jefferson’s family. In the post, Merritt said Jefferson was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when she went to investigate a “prowler” outside the window, which was the officer that shot her.

A Xavier University of Louisiana graduate and “beautiful peaceful woman,” Jefferson was tending to the house of her mother who recently fell ill and was hospitalized, Merritt told The Washington Post.

“There was no reason for her to be murdered. None,” he said. “We must have justice.”

Among many activists, legal scholars, and black Americans, Guyger’s conviction was a marked shift after a long history of seemingly insufficient justice for cases of black Americans killed by white police officers.

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However, it remains to be seen if this Fort Worth case will replicate the cadence of Dallas. Within a month of Jean’s 2018 death, the Dallas district attorney and Texas Rangers had opened independent investigations, Guyger was fired and she was charged with manslaughter.

A month later, a grand jury upgraded the charges to murder, the charge on which the jury convicted Guyger, according to a Dallas Morning News timeline. The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office said Sunday they did not have a statement on Jefferson’s death.

Fort Worth police drew scrutiny and accusations of excessive force in 2016 when a video of a white officer arresting a black mother spread across social media.

BY CARRINGTON TATUM


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Chicago Police Board president files complaint alleging he was struck 5 times by cops at George Floyd protest

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On Friday, WTTW reported that Ghian Foreman, the president of the Chicago Police Board, has filed a complaint alleging he was beaten in the legs five times by police officers at a protest against the killing of George Floyd last Sunday.

The Chicago Police Board is an independent civilian commission that has power over police disciplinary cases.

"Foreman filed a complaint with the Citizens Office of Police Accountability alleging that he was struck by at least one officer during a protest sparked by the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, said Ephraim Eaddy, a spokesperson for the agency," said the report. "Foreman’s complaint, which identifies the officer Foreman said struck him, is one of 344 complaints of police misconduct filed with COPA between midnight May 29 and 7 a.m. Friday, Eaddy said. The complaint itself is confidential."

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Kayleigh McEnany may have committed voter fraud by claiming parent’s Florida address when living in DC: report

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White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has carried the flag for President Donald Trump's campaign against mail-in voting, delivering false warnings the process is rife with voter fraud. But McEnany herself may be guilty of the illegal act.

And so may be her boss.

"Kayleigh McEnany was living in Washington, but voted in Florida. Trump used an address he promised Palm Beach officials would not be a residence," HuffPost reports.

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Derek Chauvin accused of illegally voting in Florida — where he was allegedly registered as a Republican

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Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin has been accused of committing felony voter fraud in Florida.

Dan Helm, a candidate for Supervisor of Elections in Pinellas County, sent a letter to the State Attorney of Orange County outlining the allegations.

"I write to inform you that, Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd in Minnesota, voted in Orange County Floriday in 2016 and 2018 as a registered Republican," Helm wrote to Aramis Ayala.

He said he discovered the information in the voter file.

"While living in Minnesota, working there, paying taxes there, Derek Chauvin cannot claim residency in Orange County. His home, residency and where he intends to live is in Minnesota, not Florida," he charged. "This is a violation of our election laws, specifically Fla. Stat. 104.011 (2)."

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