Mourners gathered at a Dallas church Thursday morning to pay their respects for a woman fatally shot in her home by a now-former Fort Worth police officer.
Funeral services for Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was held at the Concord Church on Pastor Bailey Drive at 11 a.m. Thursday. Senior pastor Bryan Carter said the services were about celebrating the life and legacy of Jefferson.
"The hope and desire today is really to begin the healing process. It is a long process. The family has been through a lot," Pastor Carter said. "She was a loving, smart, caring, gentle and a person that was loved by her family and her friends."
Jefferson's death has caught national attention. Officer Aaron Dean, who resigned days after her death, was responding to her Fort Worth home on an early Saturday morning for a wellness check after a call from a neighbor about the family's door being open.
A temporary restraining order delayed the Jefferson's original service less than 24 hours before it was set to take place at the Potter's House Church in Dallas last weekend. The order granted Jefferson's father Marquis Jefferson "full authority to make arrangements for the funeral and burial", with the matter being handled and finalized in a court hearing on Monday.
Of the hundreds in attendance Thursday were Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, city council members, and dozens of Fort Worth police officers, including interim police chief Ed Kraus.
Jaime Kowslessar, senior pastor at City Temple Seven Day Adventist Church, was one of the officiants at Thursday's service.
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"I'm glad that the police were there as an acknowledgement that this was an injustice," Pastor Kowslessar said. "Their presence showed that they recognized this is a problem, so what I'm praying and hoping for is that we go beyond talking – that we get to action. That we see some changes made immediately, because we can't afford to wait."
A letter from Yolanda Carr, Jefferson's mother, was read in her place. Legal representatives for the family has told NBC 5, Carr, had been in the hospital at the time of the shooting.
In the letter, Carr wrote of her daughter's "humble boldness" adding she still had faith she could change the world. Jefferson graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2014 with a biology degree and dreams of becoming a doctor, her family said.
A letter from U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, D-California addressed to Jefferson's family was read aloud during the service. Rep. Waters expressed and described Jefferson's death as both heartbreaking and infuriating.
As much as Thursday was about Jefferson's life, pastors leading the services say it was about not forgetting the calls and need for change.
"For Maxine Waters to recognize that just shows the gravity and just shows the extent something to change sooner than later," Pastor Kowslessar said. "We can't continue to prepare funerals where parents are burying their children. This is not the way it should be. We hope that children bury their parents or we don't have to bury anyone under these circumstances."