When Jefferson’s neighbor dialed a non-emergency number to request a wellness check, he never expected the responding officers would fatally shoot the young woman. However, according to the officials, wires were crossed between dispatch and law enforcement.
“The information came from the neighbor to the call-takers and while it was relayed to the dispatch, it was determined to be an open structure call,” Fort Worth Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said to reporters.
CNN reported there is a vast difference between a welfare check, which typically involves a medical emergency, and an “open structure” or “open door” call, which more directly implies a burglary.
“You are at a higher sensitivity to what is going on with that house,” Michael “Britt” London, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association told CNN. “You have to be ready for anything. You are taking more of your environment in consideration to be ready for a surprise if there’s one.”
Body camera footage showed an officer observing the area surrounding the home where Jefferson and her 8-year-old nephew were. Upon noticing movement in the window, Dean yelled, “Put your hands up, show me your hands,” before firing one shot through the window, killing Jefferson.
Though Dean resigned on Monday, Kraus told reporters during a press conference he planned on terminating the officer.
Retired Fort Worth police chief and police consultant Jeff Halstead echoed Kraus’ sentiments, saying there was no clear evidence that a crime was taking place.
In addition, Halstead noted Dean’s experience as a rookie officer could have contributed to his reaction to the call.
“Some officers, younger officers, think every call is an extreme risk or high-profile call. With seniority, maturity, experience, you can customize your mindset in approaching a lot of different calls.”