Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Fort Worth cop Aaron Dean charged with murder in shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, as nation wrestles with rogue cops who invade the home and wreak havoc -- which they have done twice in our lives

Forth Worth cop Aaron Dean: Charged with murder in the
shooting death of Atatiana Koquice Jefferson

When police abuse citizens, especially in or around the home, it leaves a kind of trauma that never goes away. My wife, Carol, and I know all about this, as we live daily with the effects of being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) We've had two encounters with cops breaking into our home and acting with violence -- both apparently driven by legal/political forces who wanted to shut down our investigative reporting on Legal Schnauzer.

I'm not sure there is such a thing as mass PTSD, but if it exists, the citizens of Forth Worth, TX, probably are feeling it after a white police officer early Saturday fatally shot a black, female resident named Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, 28, as she peered out a window from inside her own home. One minute, she was playing video games with her nephew; the next minute, she heard noise outside, went to check on it, and wound up dead. In fact, the story is moving quickly, with officer Aaron Dean arrested and charged with murder. Much more already is happening.

In our first experience, Alabama deputy Chris Blevins, with assistance from colleague Jason Valenti (who can be heard on a dash-cam video threatening to break my arms), entered our home, beat me up, doused me with mace and hauled me for a five-month stay at the Shelby County Jail. To my knowledge, I remain the only U.S. journalist since 2006 to be incarcerated. This was all over a fully civil matter -- a lawsuit for defamation from Alabama GOP politico Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke -- without a whiff of criminal allegations (and as limited court procedures later showed, without a whiff of defamation either.) Blevins did not show a warrant, state he had a warrant, or state his purpose for being on our property, which means this was a state-sanctioned kidnapping -- a gross violation of state law and the U.S. Supreme Court holding in Payton v. New York, 455 U.S 573 (1980).

Atatiana Koquice Jefferson
In our second experience, six to eight Missouri deputies -- some dressed in SWAT gear -- conducted an unlawful eviction, which included one deputy pointing an assault-weapon at my head. The incident ended with cops slamming Carol butt-first to the ground and yanking on her limbs so violently that they broke her left arm -- a comminuted fracture that required roughly eight hours of trauma surgery for repair. After the Missouri cops finished terrorizing Carol and me, the so-called "eviction crew" for landlord Cowherd Construction placed all of our furniture outside at the sidewalk and proceeded to drive off with just about everything they could carry. We lost all of our possessions except the clothes on our backs -- furniture, clothing, household goods, etc. We still are struggling to recover from that nightmare, while trying to cope with PTSD. (See Personal Note at the end of this post, along with body-cam video from Fort Worth.)

As for the Jefferson shooting, we already see signs residents are ready for accountability and dramatic changes in how Fort Worth is policed. Consider the following, per the Fort Worth Star Telegram and Dallas Morning News:

(1) Officer Aaron Dean resigns and is arrested and charged with murder . . .

A former Fort Worth officer has been arrested and charged with murder in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, according to jail and court records. Aaron York Dean, 34, resigned from Fort Worth Police Department on Monday morning. Early Saturday morning, he shot and killed Jefferson, 28, inside her home on Allen Avenue while responding to a call from a neighbor about the front door being open, police said. Dean was listed as an inmate in the Tarrant County Jail as of 6:50 p.m. Monday night, according to records.

(2) Activists and leaders around the country react to arrest in Jefferson shooting . . .

Activist Shaun King, who has 1.1 million followers on Twitter, tweeted about Dean’s arrest: "This is a tiny measure of progress.

"This arrest is not justice. It's a half-step toward it, but this county has so many wrongs to get right."

S. Lee Merritt, Jefferson family attorney: "The family of Atatiana Jefferson is relieved that Aaron Dean has been arrested and charged with murder. We need to see this through to a vigorous prosecution and appropriate sentencing. The City of Fort Worth has much work to do to reform a brutal culture of policing."

(3)  Experts: Training emphasizes danger to cops over community safety . . .

The Fort Worth officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson likely relied on police training that overemphasized the risk to an officer’s life while ignoring basic patrol guidelines every cop learns, law enforcement experts said Monday.

Jefferson, 28, was at her home in southeast Fort Worth when she was shot around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. She was up late playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when a neighbor — concerned because Jefferson’s door was open and the lights were on — called a non-emergency police number.

When officer Aaron Dean and his partner arrived, they went to the backyard. Dean shot Jefferson through a bedroom window. It appears they did not yell “police” or go to the open front door, according to the snippet of body camera footage released Saturday by the Fort Worth Police Department. Both approaches should have been part of Dean’s training after he joined the department in 2018, the experts said.

(A Personal Note: The Legal Schnauzer journalism family -- including "Gabby, the Investigative Tabby," needs your help. Loyal readers have sustained this blog for years, and support is urgently needed now, as we fight for justice and transparency on multiple fronts, for ourselves and for the many other victims who have been the subjects of our reporting. Perhaps most importantly, we want to make sure Gabby has no shortage of "noms" in his bowl.

(As noted above, we've had two encounters with cops unlawfully entering our home and inflicting violence and terror on us. The result has been emotional and financial devastation. Carol and I have been diagnosed with PTSD, and we struggle with it daily. Our once solid finances are in tatters, and "eviction-crew" thugs, under the direction of Missouri landlord Trent Cowherd, stole almost all of our earthly possessions -- clothes, furniture, household goods . . . all gone.

(If you believe America's broken court system needs to be restored; if you believe our courts should dispense justice for all Americans, not just an elite few; or maybe if you are a fellow animal lover who happens to enjoy a good legal tale now and then . . . we hope you will consider making a donation.)

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