Proponents of gun rights on social media are concerned Fort Worth, Texas police are attempting to justify the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman inside her own home by releasing a photo of a firearm found in the bedroom of the house.
Atatiana Jefferson was killed Saturday by a single shot from a police officer who fired through a window into the home while responding to a call to check on the well-being of those inside, police said in a statement.
Police said a firearm was recovered from the home and posted a photograph of a handgun on the floor in the bedroom, but gave no other details. It was unclear whether Jefferson had the weapon when she was shot.
The unidentified officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the police department and the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, police said.
Facing scrutiny from Jefferson’s family, outraged local leaders and the public, the Fort Worth Police Department on Saturday released body camera footage of the incident.
The video showed police approaching the house with flashlights, whispering to each other in the dark. As one officer looks through a bedroom window, he suddenly yells, “Put your hands up, show me your hands,” then fires. He does not identify himself as a police officer.
The nearly two-minute long video ends with two different still frame shots of the gun officers found at Jefferson’s home.
Fort Worth police issued a statement Saturday, in which the department indicated officers had located a “firearm” inside the residence.
“No cop, or person of authority truly wants you to own a firearm”
Commenters on the pro-gun r/firearms Reddit forum responded to the release of the body camera video by suggesting Fort Worth police were trying to justify the shooting.
“It appears as though Ft Worth, TX Police will attempt to justify a poorly trained officer’s instant decision to shoot and kill a woman in her own home due to the fact there was a firearm somewhere in the house,” said one user, posting in a thread titled, “The Presence of [a] Firearm in your Own Home Apparently Justifies Murder by Police.”
“I am sorry to make this point in the light of the unfortunate death of a fellow human being. No cop, or person of authority truly wants you to own a firearm,” said another commenter.
Elsewhere on Reddit, gun rights advocates were expressing similar sentiments.
“That is a narrative the media is pimping. Cop saw gun. Cop shot. If you do not want to get shot, do not own gun,” said one user on the r/gunpolitics forum.
The Fort Worth Police Department did not immediately respond to Pluralist’s request for comment.
Was Atatiana Jefferson a danger to officers because she purportedly had a gun in the home?
While details about the case continue to emerge, initial reports appear to belie the notion that Jefferson presented a threat.
She was playing video games with her nephew when they heard what they believed to be a prowler outside, the Forth Worth Star-Telegram reported, citing her relatives’ attorney. When she went to the window to check, she was shot, the attorney said.
Neighbor James Smith told reporters he called police after he noticed the door was open, which he said seemed abnormal and made him worry for his neighbors’ well-being.
“It makes you not want to call the police department,” Smith told the Star-Telegram. “If you don’t feel safe with the police department, then who do you feel safe with?”
(REUTERS contributed to this report.)