Fort Worth mayor describes actions being taken after council meeting on police shooting

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price outlined a few of the city’s plans for police oversight in response to the fatal shooting of a woman inside her home on Saturday.

In a statement Wednesday, Price said she heard from dozens of citizens at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. Hundreds of people spilled out of the packed council chambers and City Hall, and 58 people were signed up to speak.

Many of them demanded reform in the city’s police department in response to the fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson, a black woman who was killed in her home by Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean. Others said city leaders, such as City Manager David Cooke, should resign.

“The tragic death of Ms. Jefferson has left this city broken. Some of the sentiments we heard last night – Citizens don’t feel safe, they are scared, tired and hopeless,” Price said in her statement.

An independent, third-party panel of national experts will be on board no later than Nov. 19 and will review the policies and procedures of the Fort Worth Police Department, the statement said. The panel will provide weekly updates to the city.

Price said the city is continuing to implement Race and Culture Task Force Recommendations. The task force, which was created after the 2016 arrest of Jacqueline Craig, made 20 recommendations to address race and income disparities in Fort Worth.

The recommendations included creating a civilian oversight committee for the police department and hiring a “chief equity officer” tasked with implementing diversity efforts across the city. Cooke has said Fort Worth should adopt all 20 recommendations.

The city has been finalizing plans to hire an independent police monitor — a civilian who will guide the council and city staff in forming the citizen review board.

Price said interviews for the independent police monitor and a diversity and inclusion officer will begin soon.

The interviews for an independent police monitor will start in the third week of November, and interviews with the final round of candidates for a diversity and inclusion officer will take place in October, she said in the statement.

A public forum will be held on Oct. 28.

“As I promised in my open letter to the community, we will continue to listen, and we are taking immediate action. My focus remains on healing this city and pushing forward to see that we make progress,” Price continued in her statement. “My heart remains heavy and my prayers continue to be with Ms. Jefferson’s family. We must take steps to bring justice to her family. Justice is not just a criminal prosecution but is also ensuring the tragedy of Ms. Jefferson’s death propels our change.”

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This story was originally published October 16, 2019 5:48 PM.

Kaley Johnson is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. She majored in investigative reporting at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a passion for bringing readers in-depth, complex stories that will impact their lives. Send your tips via email or Twitter.
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