(FORTH WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM) — A woman was killed inside her home early Saturday morning after Fort Worth officers were called to the location to do a welfare check, according to police and the neighbor who called them.
Fort Worth police released a statement Saturday afternoon saying that at 2:25 a.m. Central Division officers responded to a call in the 1200 block of East Allen Ave. The caller said the front door of the house was open.
Responding officers searched the perimeter of the house and saw a person standing inside the home near a window, police said in the news release.
“Perceiving a threat the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot striking the person inside the residence,” the statement said. “Officers entered the residence locating the individual and a firearm and began providing emergency medical care.”
The person who the officer shot, a black woman who lived at the house, succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead on the scene. The officer, a white man who has been with the department since April 2018, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the critical police incident investigation, the statement said.
“The Fort Worth police Major Case unit, Internal Affairs unit and the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorneys Law Enforcement Incident Team were notified and made the scene to conduct their aspect of the investigation to ensure all information and evidence was captured and preserved,” the statement said.
Police released some video of the incident Saturday but said they were unable to release video from inside the house, citing state law.
James Smith, who lives across the street from the woman’s home in the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue, said around 2 a.m. he could see two doors of the home were open and all of the lights were left on. He called a non-emergency Fort Worth police number, requesting someone come to the residence to check on his neighbor. She lived with an aunt who has been in the hospital, he said, and her 8-year-old nephew who was home.
About 15 minutes later, Smith said, he heard a loud bang and then saw around five to 10 officers run into the home.
Smith stood outside his home as more than 20 units responded to the scene, he said. He saw a woman being wheeled out of the home in a body bag toward a coroner’s vehicle.
When Smith, 62, spoke to the Star-Telegram a little after 9 a.m., he was standing outside of the home along with the Rev. Kyev Tatum, a community activist who was speaking with him and comforting him.
Smith said he had been up all night wrestling with his feelings, feeling “shaken” and like “it’s partly my fault.”
“If I had never dialed the police department, she’d still be alive,” Smith said.
Tatum was holding a piece of yellow piece tape and said it was “the only evidence that’s left here this morning to show a woman was killed.”
“We’re asking the police officers to release the body-cam immediately,” he said. “To have an 8-year-old boy inside while all of this is going on is unconscionable.”
Smith said all he knew as of 9 a.m. Saturday was that his neighbor is dead. Police took a statement from him, he said, but didn’t tell him what happened inside of the home.
It was his niece who also lives on East Allen Avenue who initially noticed the woman’s doors were open and lights were on. When he saw the unusual scene, he decided to call a non-emergency police number, not believing the situation to be an emergency and only wanting someone to check on his neighbor.
His nephew, who was with Smith, thought he heard someone yell and a gunshot, he said.
“But we didn’t hear, ‘Fort Worth Police Department!” he said. “We didn’t hear any of that.”
Smith said he’s lived on the street for 50 years and the family across the street has lived there for about two years. His grandchildren, nieces and nephews often play with the 8-year-old, who’s the only child living in his home, he said.
He’s often concerned about the boy crossing the street, he said. The neighbors on the street, he said, look after each other.
“And so, when I saw the doors open, I thought about him, I thought about his grandma, I thought about his aunt,” he said. “And I wanted to make sure they were safe. That’s all I wanted to do.”
He said Saturday morning he was “baffled,” and that he has the police report number and will be following up on the investigation.
“It makes you not want to call the police department,” he said. “If you don’t feel safe with the police department, then who do you feel safe with? Do you just ignore crime or ignore something that’s not right?”
“They tell you, ‘If you see something, say something…Well, if you do that and it costs somebody to lose their life, it makes you not want to do that. And that’s sad.”