Fort Worth, TX — James Smith, a man from Dallas who called the police because he was worried about his neighbor, Atatiana Jefferson, now says he regrets doing so. Sadly, when the police arrived to her home to help, they shot and killed her instead. At that time, she was playing video games with her nephew inside their home.
Smith said he noticed that day around 2 a.m. that Jefferson’s lights were on and her door was open. He got worried because it was not usual for them so he called a non-emergency police number to request a welfare check to make sure they were safe.
“I’m calling about my neighbor,” Smith can be heard telling police during the call in a recording released by the Forth Worth police department. “It’s not normal for them to have both of the doors open this time of night.”
According to the department’s statement, police arrived in Jefferson’s house a few minutes after the call and found a person standing inside near a window.
A white police officer, who was seen on a body camera footage looking into the bedroom window, then shouted, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” before firing a shot.
“I’m shaken. I’m mad. I’m upset. And I feel it’s partly my fault,” Smith told the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. “If I had never dialed the police department, she’d still be alive.”
Smith said that the terrible incident has shaken his trust in the police.
“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,” he said.
Jefferson, a 28-year old woman, was a graduate of the Xavier University of Louisiana in 2014 with a degree in biology. She was living with his 8-year old nephew, whom she was playing video games with when the incident happened.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to support her family with funeral costs and other expenses. It has so far exceeded the $200,000 goal.
Meanwhile, police department spokesman Lt. Brandon O’Neil said the involved police officer, whose name has yet to be released, was placed on administrative leave. He said they are planning to investigate the shooting, specifically the reason why he did not identify himself as a police officer before he fired the shot.