Texas woman shot dead by police in her home remembered as dedicated aunt, 'peaceful woman'

A family lawyer said Atatiana Jefferson, who was with her nephew, was fatally shot while investigating a noise in her backyard.

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By Tim Stelloh

The 28-year-old black Texas woman killed in her home by a white police officer was a pre-med university graduate who worked in pharmaceutical equipment sales, her family’s lawyer said Sunday.

The lawyer, Lee Merritt, described Atatiana Jefferson in an online fundraiser as someone dedicated to her family and “the auntie that stayed up on Friday night playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew.”

Jefferson, who attended Xavier University, was shot to death early Saturday morning by a Fort Worth police officer while she was watching her older sister’s son.

The department said in a statement that the officer was dispatched to the home after a report that its front door was open. As the officer searched outside, he saw a person inside standing near a window, the statement said.

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“Perceiving a threat the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot,” police said.

The statement did not describe the threat. A gun was found in the home, the statement said, though it did not specify where it was found.

Merritt accused the department of “villainizing this beautiful peaceful woman” and turning her into a “suspect, a silhouette, or threat.”

In body camera footage obtained by NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, the officer can be seen approaching the window, then shouting, "Put your hands up — show me your hands” before quickly opening fire.

Merritt said Jefferson and her nephew had heard a noise in the backyard and went to investigate.

In a news conference, Merritt added that the officer fired so quickly that he “didn’t have time to perceive a threat.”

The officer, who was not identified, has been with the department since April 2018. He was placed on administrative leave while the department conducts an internal investigation, police said.

Jefferson’s death marked the sixth fatal police shooting in the north Texas city of nearly 1 million since June, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported.