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Stop taking police brutality lightly, enough is enough

By Christian Pascoal

We currently live in a country where far too often we see stories on the news about police officers shooting and killing innocent and unarmed citizens. It has become one of the most discussed issues in America over the past few years and does not seem to be going away anytime soon.

The most recent egregious case of police brutality took place on Saturday, Oct. 12 in Fort Worth, Texas when 28-year-old African American woman Atatiana Jefferson was shot and killed in her mother’s home by a Forth Worth police officer.

The facts of the case are very clear cut. Around 2:30 A.M. on that Saturday morning the Fort Worth officer, 34-year-old Aaron Dean, and his partner were responding to a call the department received on a non-emergency police line asking to do a welfare check on Jefferson’s mother.

The call was made by one of her neighbors who was worried about her after seeing that her front door was slightly open, and all her lights were on.

Dean and his fellow officers arrived at the home and made their way to the backyard, where they saw a shadowy figure through one of the house’s windows.

The bodycam footage of the incident then shows the officers shouting at the figure in the house to “put their hands up.” Seconds later, Dean shot through the window killing the perceived intruder without any noticeable provocation or reason.

That “perceived intruder” was actually Atatiana Jefferson, who was in her mother’s home that night helping her recover from a recent injury. She wasn’t committing a crime in the slightest.

Officer Dean was fired from the Fort Worth police department and arrested and charged with murder two days later on Monday, Oct. 14.

It’s hard for me to imagine any rational person looking at the facts of this case and feeling any sympathy for Dean. As I see it, it`s impossible to see this as anything but straight-up murder.

One viewing of Dean`s bodycam footage is all you really need to see to understand how horrific and negligent the killing of Atatiana Jefferson is. The officers made no effort to identify themselves as police officers and instead just shouted briefly before firing a shot at a person they “perceived as a threat.”

No police officer in the world should have that quick of a trigger finger. Officers are taught to attempt to de-escalate situations and use force as a last resort, what happened to Jefferson was the exact opposite.

The obvious question that arises in these kinds of cases is if Jefferson’s race played a factor with Dean being a white police officer. Personally, I don’t see this as a race thing. To me, this is just about an officer who made a mind-numbingly dumb decision in the heat of the moment that cost an innocent woman her life.

Should he still pay for it? Absolutely, police officers should be treated the same as the rest of us when it comes to murder, especially when the details of the case are as appalling as these are.

It would appear the justice system got this one right, with Dean being charged with murder, but sadly this will probably do little to affect change on this oncoming American problem.

This was the fourth shooting of it’s kind this year alone in Fort Worth, including one where the man was not armed and holding a flashlight.

It’s difficult to see a resolution to this hot button issue anytime soon, but it’s a fight worth fighting to try and stop the injustice that is police brutality.

Is it so unreasonable to ask the people sworn to protect us, to stop killing us?

Christian Pascoal can be reached at christian.pascoal@spartans.ut.edu

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