The family of Atatiana Jefferson, the 28-year-old woman fatally shot Saturday by Fort Worth, Texas, police, is demanding an independent investigation of the officer and the department's practices.
"We demand justice," Jefferson's older sister, Ashley, said during a Monday news conference, "through an independent, thorough and transparent process."
The white Fort Worth officer killed Jefferson, a black woman, in her home early Saturday by firing through a bedroom window. Police said they had been responding to a call about an open door at the residence.
Officers were dispatched to the house in the city's Hillside Morningside neighborhood at 2:25 a.m. after receiving an "open structure" call, according to a statement from the Fort Worth Police Department. A neighbor told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he dialed a non-emergency line and requested a welfare check when he noticed that the door was ajar and the lights were on.
While searching the outside of the house, police said, an officer saw someone standing near a window, and "perceiving a threat, the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot striking the person inside the residence." Jefferson was pronounced dead at the scene.
Body-camera footage released by police Saturday showed two officers walking quietly around the side of the house and peering through screen doors, then moving down a driveway into a backyard.
One officer approached a closed first-floor window and shined a flashlight inside, then swiftly raised his gun.
"Put your hands up! Show me your hands!" he yelled. A moment later, he fired through the window. He did not identify himself as an officer, in the footage.
Along with the video, police released images of a firearm, which officers said they found at the scene. Officials did not release the officer's name, describing him only as a white male who has been with the department since April 2018. The department said he would be placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Lee Merritt, a local civil rights attorney, has taken on the Jefferson case. On Monday, he demanded an outside agency investigate the officer and the department's practices, alluding to race-based discrimination.
"[The department is] trying to make a case for what we hear far too often: This officer perceived a threat and reacted according to his training," Merritt said Monday, nothing that in the last six months there have been 10 police officer-involved shootings in the area.
Merritt also represented Botham Jean's family in the trial of former Dallas officer Amber Guyger earlier this month.
The emotionally charged courtroom saga - which similarly involved a white officer who fatally shot Jean, an unarmed black man in his home - drew nationwide attention when a jury convicted Guyger of murder and sentenced her to 10 years in prison.
Days after the sentencing, Joshua Brown, a key witness in the case, was shot and killed, stoking rumors that he was targeted because of his testimony. Police attributed Brown's death to a drug deal gone awry and emphatically denied a connection to the Guyger case, but that has not quelled concerns from some local officials and activists, who have called for an independent investigation, as The Washington Post has reported.
It is not yet clear whether the officer who shot Jefferson will face criminal charges. Police said they will turn over body-camera footage and other relevant evidence to the Tarrant County district attorney's office, which will decide whether to pursue charges.