No one wants to lose a loved one, especially not as a result of a shooting. We see news reports about shootings involving anger, fights and jealousy. The reasons do not matter when someone we love is killed. Then there’s the senseless, incomprehensible shooting of someone like Atatiana "Tay" Jefferson, 28, a Xavier University alum living in Fort Worth, Texas, who was shot and killed while playing a video game with her nephew in the home she shared with her ailing mother.
Shot by a Fort Worth police officer.
Black, brown or white, no one deserves to die this way. A police officer, responding to a nonemergency call, based on the suspicious look of an open front door in the wee hours, shot through a window without announcing himself as a police officer. We grieve with Jefferson’s family and the Xavier University of Louisiana community locally and nationally.
In a letter to the institution’s community, Xavier President Reynold Verret accurately points out that this unfortunate shooting demonstrates that policing in this nation needs additional reform.
"We are deeply dismayed by the news of another African American killed in her own home by the police," Verret wrote. "This time, she is one of our Xavier University of Louisiana alumnae, very close to our heart."
"We should expect safety when we call on our police, whose mission is to protect and serve," he wrote. "Sadly, our fathers and mothers must caution daughters and sons on their interactions with officers. Families in our communities hesitate to call on their protectors out of fear that they be killed. This should not be.”
He is right, of course. This should not be. The neighbor who called police because he feared for his neighbor’s safety says he wishes he hadn’t made the call because his neighbor might be alive.
Verret notes that policing is "broken for some,” and he obviously means African Americans.
#AtatianaJefferson, #TayJefferson and #SayHerName have been trending on social media since the weekend because so many are angry, frustrated that yet another African American has been killed by a police officer. Some have planned, or suggested, protests, rallies and vigils.
The officer involved resigned, and Fort Worth police quickly charged him with murder. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price called the incident “unjustified.” She and interim Police Chief Ed Kraus have promised a thorough investigation, and they have asked the FBI to join the investigation. That’s a good start, but it’s not enough.
Jefferson’s untimely, unfortunate and unnecessary death might rapidly become even more controversial if Fort Worth officials fail to be transparent and if outside agency officials aren’t intimately involved.