Family seeks answers after police kill Texas woman at home

A white police officer who killed a black woman inside her Texas home while responding to a neighbour's call about an open front door "didn't have time to perceive a threat" before he opened fire, a lawyer for the woman's family said.

"You didn't hear the officer shout, 'Gun, gun, gun,'" attorney Lee Merritt said after viewing video taken from a Fort Worth officer's bodycam during Saturday's shooting of Atatiana Jefferson, 28. "He didn't have time to perceive a threat. That's murder."

Her family told KXAS television that Jefferson was watching her eight-year-old nephew when she was killed early on Saturday.

The Fort Worth Police Department said in a statement that officers saw someone near a window inside the home and that one of them drew his duty weapon and fired after "perceiving a threat". The video released by police shows two officers searching the home from the outside with flashlights before one shouts, "Put your hands up, show me your hands." One shot is then fired through a window. The officer does not identify himself as police in the video.

"It's another one of those situations where the people that are supposed to protect us are actually not here to protect us," said Jefferson's sister, Amber Carr.

"You know, you want to see justice, but justice don't bring my sister back," she said.

An aunt, Venitta Body, said the family does not understand why Jefferson was killed.

"It's like from the moment we got the call, it's been more and more inconceivable and more confusing. And there has nothing been done in order to take away that confusion," Body said.

Police said the officer, who's been on the force since April 2018, is on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation. His name was not released.

James Smith, who called a police non-emergency number about the open door, told reporters he was just trying to be a good neighbour.

"I'm shaken. I'm mad. I'm upset. And I feel it's partly my fault," Smith said. "If I had never dialled the police department, she'd still be alive."

Smith said Jefferson and her nephew typically lived with an older woman, who's been in the hospital.

"It makes you not want to call the police department," he said.

Merritt said Jefferson's family expects "a thorough and expedient investigation."

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Sunday called on the Justice Department to investigate.

"The killings of unarmed black Americans have got to end," Sanders tweeted. "Atatiana Jefferson should be alive."

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