Xavier students react to the loss of recent graduate in Fort Worth Police shooting

Updated: Oct. 14, 2019 at 5:59 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Students at Xavier University of New Orleans are reacting with sadness after a recent graduate was killed in a controversial police shooting in Fort Worth. It happened over the weekend while the 28-year-old woman was in her home.

Around 2:30 a.m. Saturday Atatania Jefferson, a 2014 graduate, was shot and killed in her Fort Worth home by a police officer doing a welfare check.

Neighbor Frank Smith contacted the non-emergency number asking police to conduct a welfare check on his neighbor because the door was ajar.

Police officer Aaron Dean arrived on the scene, went around the back of the home, and then fired the fatal shot when he saw Jefferson in the window.

It was all caught on Dean’s police body camera.

He resigned Monday from the force as the students at Jefferson’s alma mater try and absorb the death of a recent graduate who was described as person of integritymwho was smart and ambitious.

“I’m sad about the situation. The whole school is mourning,” said Xavier student Barakah Hassell.

LSU Health criminologist Peter Scharf is a use of force expert who says it never should have happened.

"You have to assess the scene, take hard cover, attempt to initiate a dialogue, and most importantly identify yourself as a police officer," said Scharf.

Dr. Scharf says it’s clear to him, officer Dean, who had 18 months on the force, should have called for help.

"The right thing is to call for backup, inexperienced police officers don't want to look cowardly," said Scharf.

Then there’s the bigger issue of trying to prevent this sort of tragedy from happening again, and Scharf says it will be important for the Fort Worth Police Department to bring in the right people to try and find answers.

Scharf says Fort Worth should bring in outside investigators. So do the victims' friends and family.

"You can't investigate your own people, you know the officers spouse, and kids...you're too close...you need someone with some objectivity," said Scharf.

Meanwhile, Xavier students are troubled.

“I can see both sides, but ultimately police should have handled it to ensure their safety and the civilians safety was ensured,” said student Edward Rasheed.

"Just knowing she went to Xavier, it makes me sad that one of us, had to go through that situation," said Hassell.

Many say such shootings make them concerned for their own safety.

Dr Scharf says often times in such cases, the person in the home may think that an intruder is trying to get in. When that person moves, police seek motion, and react to motion, which can often have deadly results.

An attorney close to the case says Jefferson was playing video games with her eight-year-old nephew at the time of the shooting.

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