A white police officer who shot and 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,”‘ Lee Merritt said after viewing video taken from a Fort Worth officer’s body camera during Saturday’s shooting of Atatiana Jefferson, 28. “He didn’t have time to perceive a threat. That’s murder.”

Her family told local media that Jefferson was watching her eight-year-old nephew when she was killed early Saturday.

The Fort Worth Police Department said in a statement that officers saw someone near a window inside the home, and 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.

“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.

It makes you not want to call the police department.– James Smith, neighbour

“You know, you want to see justice, but justice don’t bring my sister back,” Carr 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.

A large crowd gathered outside Jefferson’s home Sunday night for a vigil after earlier demonstrations briefly stopped traffic on part of Interstate 35.

Police Lt. Brandon O’Neil said Sunday afternoon that the officer, who’s been on the force since April 2018, is on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation and will be interviewed about the shooting on Monday. His name was not released.

At a brief news conference at police headquarters, O’Neil confirmed the officer did not announce he was police before he fired the fatal shot, and his failure to do so is part of the department’s investigation.

Lt. Brandon O’Neil, seen at a news conference on Sunday, said Jefferson’s eight-year-old nephew was in the room with her when she was shot by the officer, whose name wasn’t released. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

O’Neil also confirmed Jefferson’s nephew was in the room when she was shot. He said representatives of the police department have spoken with the woman’s family and “shared our serious and heartfelt concern for this unspeakable loss.” Her family has said she was watching her nephew at the time.

O’Neil declined to answer reporters’ questions and said Fort Worth police Chief Ed Kraus plans to conduct a more in-depth news conference on Monday.

‘Atatiana Jefferson should be alive’

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.

Protesters on Sunday gather outside the house where Jefferson was shot and killed on Saturday night. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

In an audio recording of Smith’s call that was released by police, the neighbour said it was “not normal” for the house to leave its front door open for hours at that time of day.

Merritt said Jefferson’s family expects “a thorough and expedient investigation.”

The Fort Worth Police Department said it released bodycam footage soon after the shooting to provide transparency, but any “camera footage inside the residence” could not be distributed due to state law. However, the video released to media included blurred still frames showing a gun inside a bedroom at the home. It’s unclear if the firearm was found near the woman, and police have not said the officer who shot her thought she had a gun.

The police statement released Saturday said only that officers who entered the residence after the shooting found a firearm. Police did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Sunday.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, on Sunday called on the Justice Department to investigate.

The shooting comes less than two weeks after a white former Dallas police officer was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the shooting of her black neighbour inside his own apartment. Amber Guyger, 31, said during her trial that she mistook Botham Jean’s apartment for her own, which was one floor below Jean’s. Merritt also represents Jean’s family.