Fort Worth

City of Fort Worth proposes settlement in Atatiana Jefferson lawsuit

City council has to approve settlement, part of case would still remain open

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The family of Atatiana Jefferson may be getting a little more closure.

A Fort Worth officer, Aaron Dean, fatally shot Jefferson in her home back in 2019 while performing a welfare check.

The city is facing a lawsuit from her family, which is moving forward.

City officials said they've reached a $3.5 million settlement for part of the lawsuit.

The goal is to take care of Jefferson's nephew, Zion Carr, who was playing video games with her at her home when she was killed.

The city said a lump sum would go into a trust fund for Carr for his current needs and living expenses.

The city would also create a college savings plan to pay for up to eight years of school.

If Carr decides not to go to college, he'd get a lump sum payment.

He'd also get payments until he's 40 years old.

The city said the money amounts would likely increase, based on interest.

Bob Ray Sanders, community member, said it's an important milestone.

“I don’t know that that would satisfy all the family members who want more justice, if you could find it in this kind of situation, but it’s a start," he said.

Sanders is a former co-chair of the Fort Worth task force on race and culture, which recommended that the city create a police oversight committee and a police monitor position.

He said he lives near Jefferson's home, and passes by the mural in her honor multiple times a week, along with other neighbors.

“We can’t forget her. She will not be forgotten," he said.

Sanders said the community was expecting a move like this.

“Money doesn’t solve everything, but it is acknowledgment by the city, if they accept this resolution to the problem, that, listen—the city was wrong," he said.

The city council still has to vote to approve the settlement, but District 8 representative Chris Nettles said along with doing things like renaming a road and community center in Jefferson's honor, this is another step in the right direction.

"Honestly, I think it's been hard to get here," Nettles said.

He said Jefferson's killing was part of what moved him to run for office in the first place, and he's gotten to know her family since.

"Although we can't bring our loved one back, we certainly can make sure that life is better for those who are left behind," Nettles said.

Sanders said the proposed settlement doesn't surprise him.

He said he was with the family shortly after Jefferson's killing when the then-mayor, city manager, and police chief met with them to apologize.

'“I had never seen that happen before. So, I knew from the very beginning that this was a different case," Sanders said.

He said as a community member, he's glad to know that the city is looking out for her nephew.

“I know the community is feeling about the way that I am, and that is that there is some justice," he said.

This settlement would only resolve part of the family's lawsuit against the city.

The estate claims are still being litigated, according to the city.

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