Nowadays in America, cops can simply show up at your home and murder you, without any justification.
In yet another shocking instance of police brutality, a young black woman was gunned down by a Texas police officer in her own home while playing video games with her 8-year old nephew on October 12th.
As per the video footage released by the Fort Worth Police Department, one of the officers can be heard yelling,
“Put your hands up! Show me your hands!”.
Immediately after, he fires a shot, giving the woman almost no time to respond.
Interestingly, none of the officers even identify themselves as being from law enforcement.
From what we know so far, the victim, Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, was a 28-year-old pharmaceutical equipment sales professional. She had graduated with a degree in Biology from Louisiana’s Xavier University and was looking after the house as her mother had been hospitalized.
Her neighbor, James Smith, had called the police as the doors in her home were open and the lights were on, but he could perceive no movement in the house. The police promptly arrived, walked around the residence, noticed a figure at the bedroom window and immediately fired a shot, killing Jefferson then and there.
Smith later expressed regret, saying,
“If I had never dialed the police department, she’d still be alive.”.
“I don’t know what went on in the house, but I know that she wasn’t a threat.”
Smith also raised the question of whom to trust, if the law enforcement officials acted with such callousness. He said,
“If you don’t feel safe with the police department, then who do you feel safe with? 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 it costs somebody to lose their life, it makes you not want to do that. And that’s sad.”
The police have yet to explain why they perceived a woman standing near the window of her own home to be a “threat,” why they did not identify themselves as the “police,” or why they did not even wait a few seconds before firing.
However, for no apparent reason, they released information about finding a firearm at her residence, despite the fact that Texas is an open-carry state and it is perfectly legal for residents to carry firearms and keep them in their homes.
Aaron Dean, the cop responsible for the death of Jefferson, has already resigned from the police force and been charged with murder. Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus said,
“None of this information can ease the pain of Atatiana’s family, but I hope it shows the community that we take these incidents seriously.”
Of course, this assurance isn’t convincing anyone. Merritt, the lawyer representing Jefferson’s family, has created a GoFundMe campaign that has already raised $217,706 of its $250,000 goal. He has also called for an independent investigation of the murder, and sai,
“We don’t think that Fort Worth police should be investigating it on their own.”
Of course, incidents like these are a cruel reminder of the gross misconduct of law enforcement officers that seldom has any consequences for them. In fact, police officers are indicted in less than 1% of the killings, while for civilians, the indictment rate is 99%. And black civilians and Native Americans are twice as likely to be killed by police officers, even while unarmed, than white civilians.
This isn’t the first time an innocent and unarmed black person was shot dead in their own home. Last year, 26-year old Botham Jean was shot dead in his own apartment by Amber Guyer, an off-duty police officer, owing to the latter’s own mistake.
And similar to the police leaking details about the presence of a firearm in the woman’s house, in Jean’s case, the finding of marijuana in his apartment was publicly disclosed, prompting the family members to say that a “smear campaign” was being waged against them.
It is heart-breaking that in the U.S., black people and other minorities aren’t even safe in their own homes, that cops can just show up unannounced and kill them, that despite committing no wrong, an individual is still perceived as a threat, for no other reason than the color of one’s skin.
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Archita Mittra is a writer and artist, with a love for all things vintage, whimsy and darkly fantastical. She occasionally reads tarot cards, has more hobbies than she can count and loves blueberry milkshakes.She lives in Calcutta (India) with her family and rabbits.