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Fort Worth policeman who killed woman through window of her own home resigns

Harriet Alexander
A police handout of a video screen grab shows the scene of a shooting  - AFP

A Texan policeman who shot and killed a black woman through the window as she was playing video games with her nephew resigned on Monday, and may face criminal charges.

Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was at her house in Fort Worth in the early hours of Saturday when a neighbour noticed the lights on and a door open. He called the police for a “welfare check”, to make sure the family was unharmed.

When the two officers arrived at the property, Miss Jefferson, a medical graduate from Xavier University in New Orleans, who was working in pharmaceutical equipment sales, was in her bedroom.

Fort Worth police confirmed that Aaron Dean, 35, did not announce he was with the police, and nor did the pair park their patrol cars in front of the house. The force is investigating why.

Mr Dean and his colleague walked to the side of the house, opened the gate, and walked into the backyard, shining a torch around the property.

He saw someone through a house window, inside the home, and yelled: “Put your hands up. Show me your hands!” The officer then shot through the window. Officials said Mr Dean, who is white, “perceived a threat.”

Lee Merritt, a civil rights lawyer, said Miss Jefferson’s death is another example of excessive use of police force in Fort Worth. Since June, Fort Worth officers have shot seven people, six of them fatally.

Ed Kraus, chief of Fort Worth police, said that Mr Dean resigned before he was fired. He said he expects to have an update on possible charges on Tuesday.

Betsy Price, mayor of Fort Worth, said on Monday that Miss Jefferson’s killing was entirely unjustifiable.

"There's nothing that can justify what happened on Saturday morning. Nothing," she said.

She also said that Fort Worth police should not have released an image of a firearm found inside Miss Jefferson's home.

"The gun was irrelevant," she said.

“Atatiana was an amazing, smart woman who was unjustly taken from her family. I cannot imagine anything worse and I am so sorry.”

The shooting took place days after a Dallas police officer, Amber Guyger, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for shooting a black man that she mistook as an intruder inside of his apartment, which she mistakenly entered.