FORT WORTH, Texas – Family members of a Black woman who was killed when a white police officer fired through a window of her mother’s Texas home have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the officer and the city.
The federal lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Texas last week. It lists Atatiana Jefferson’s biological father, Jerome Eschor; her aunt, Venitta Body; and Arita Eschor as plaintiffs. The suit names the city of Fort Worth and former officer Aaron Dean as defendants.
A city spokeswoman said he could not comment because the city had not be served the lawsuit as of Monday.
Dean resigned after he was charged with murder in the Oct. 12, 2019, shooting death of Jefferson, 28. He was indicted by a grand jury in December. A Texas judge has tentatively set an August trial date after the coronavirus pandemic delayed the trial.
Jefferson had been babysitting her 8-year-old nephew at her mother’s home when a neighbor called a non-emergency police line to report that a door was ajar. Police have said that Dean opened fire from outside through a window after “perceiving a threat.”
The lawsuit says Dean “intentionally and with conscious, callous, deliberate and unreasonably indifference” used excessive force in fatally shooting Jefferson.
The Fort Worth police department said it was not able to comment on the lawsuit.
The suit says the city of Fort Worth “knew or should have known that Defendant Aaron Dean exhibited a pattern of escalating encounters with the public,” and failed to adequately train or supervise police officers.
“By their deliberate indifference, Defendants the City of Fort Worth Police Department implemented and encouraged policies, practices, and customs with deliberate indifference to the rights of citizens,” according to the lawsuit.
Records obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last year, do not mention “escalating encounters with the public.” But a supervisor noted he “has poor communication skills” with the public and fellow officers in a May 2018 performance review. The supervisor also said his report writing was good, but he had “tunnel vision” and missed calls for help over the radio.
The lawsuit requests a jury trial.