A Recent Rash Of Horrifying Law Enforcement Agency Blunders In Fort Worth Further Illustrates Our Policing System’s Deep-Seated Issues.
With all the police-related angst that Dallasites have endured of late between the Amber Guyger trial and the subsequent murder of trial witness Joshua Brown, it’s perhaps important to zoom out a little from our own situation and recognize that the ills our city is currently facing are in many ways just flash-points within a larger global epidemic.
Yes, perspective along these lines is always important. And, this past weekend anyway, Dallasites didn’t have to look very far at all to find it.
Over the past few days, just 30 miles to Dallas’ west, Fort Worth authorities have offered up a truly embarrassing run of tragic blunders all their own.
The biggest and most infuriating of these took place early Saturday morning when a Fort Worth police officer shot and killed 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson in her own home. While there are a number of easy comparisons to make between Jefferson’s death and the 2018 murder of Botham Jean in Dallas (in both cases, the deceased was killed in their own home; in both cases, the officer who pulled the trigger was white; in both cases, the victim was black and apparently minding their own business at the time of their death) this incident brings plenty of its own mind-boggling wrinkles.
The now-resigned officer in question — Aaron Dean, who had been on the force for less than two years — was responding to a non-emergency call from a neighbor expressing concern that the door to Jefferson’s house was uncharacteristically ajar. Upon arriving at the scene, Dean and his partner never identified themselves; they just skulked around Jefferson’s home until they spotted her through a window, at which point Dean demanded that she put her hands up then fired off a bullet through the glass before Jefferson likely had time to respond, killing her.
Responding the immediate national outrage over Dean’s actions, the Fort Worth Police Department, to its credit, quickly released Dean’s body camera footage from the scene. To the department’s discredit, it included in that video release some stills that unnecessarily (if par for course) highlighted that Jefferson may have herself kept guns in her home.
Late on Monday, Dean was arrested on murder charges — and immediately posted $200,000 bond to return to the streets as a citizen.
Horrifying as that whole situation is, it’s worth noting that it wasn’t the only national embarrassment that law enforcement agencies in Fort Worth offered up over the weekend.
On Thursday, Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn made national headlines for incendiary racist comments he made at a White House press conference. Speaking on undocumented immigrants, Waybourn was quoted during that gathering as saying, “these drunks will run over your children, and they will run over my children.”
A follow-up statement released by his office tried to clear Waybourn’s mess up some, saying that he wasn’t referring to all undocumented immigrants — just repeat DWI offenders who happen to be undocumented. At least in this case, poetic justice came swiftly: On Friday, just one day after this rant, Waybourn’s son Sergei was arrested by Arlington police on charges of indecent exposure and — *chef’s kiss motion* — public intoxication.
We’ve said it before and, after this weekend, we’re compelled to say it again: Instead of engaging in shallow PR campaigns meant to soften their image, it’s high time area law enforcement agencies worked to legitimately improve whatever flawed and systemic practices are in place that are leading to these repeated tragedies and embarrassments.
Clearly, people’s lives — and, y’know, even the most basic human decencies — depend on it.
Fort Worth cover photo via WikiCommons.