Fort Worth

One Year Later, Family of Atatiana Jefferson Waits for Justice

Jefferson was shot and killed by a now-former Fort Worth police officer on Oct. 12, 2019

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Monday will mark one year since the death of Atatiana Jefferson, a woman shot and killed in her home by a Fort Worth police officer.

The date Oct. 12, 2019 is forever seared into the hearts and minds of Jefferson’s family members, including her oldest sister Ashley Carr. Living without her baby sister is something the family is still learning to do, Carr said.

“Every moment, every milestone in your life… I always imagined my sister being there,” Carr said. “There’s a lot of days that we cry. There’s a lot of days that we don’t want to get out the bed. We’re having to still cope with this and being in a society and still be productive citizens with all this on our back.”

The days leading to the anniversary of Jefferson’s death are heavy, Carr said. It was this time last year when Carr said the family was celebrating the successful surgery their other sister, Amber Carr, had just a few days before Jefferson died. Their mother was also in the hospital at the time, leaving Jefferson to care for her nephew at the time of the early morning shooting.

“I’m reliving the time of the call that I got. All the events that happened. It’s like, it’s leading up to this,” Carr said.

Timeline of the Shooting

It was around 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 12 when now-former Fort Worth police Ofc. Aaron Dean was called to Jefferson’s home on East Allen Avenue for a welfare check. A neighbor called a non-emergency number to report Jefferson's front door had been open for some time and that he was concerned.

Dean and another officer answered the call, now classified as an open structure call, and began to search the outside of the house. At the time, Jefferson was inside playing video games with her nephew when they heard a noise in the back yard. Jefferson grabbed a handgun from her purse and walked toward a window. That's where Dean, who had entered her backyard investigating the call, ordered her to put her hands up before firing a single, fatal round through her window.

Body camera video released by the Fort Worth Police Department shows the officer walking around outside the house with a flashlight. He then stops, points his flashlight at a window and then draws his gun after seeing a person watching him from inside the house.

The officer is heard commanding, "Put your hands up, show me your hands," before he fired his weapon once.

What Happened Next?

Dean later resigned from the department. Then-interim Chief of Police Ed Kraus said had Dean not resigned, he would have been terminated and that there was "absolutely no excuse" for shooting the woman.

Regarding Jefferson being armed, Kraus said, "it makes sense that she would have a gun if she felt that she was being threatened or that there was someone in the back yard."

Dean was indicted for murder in December 2019. A trial date has not been set yet.

What Happens Now?

NBC 5 reached out to the office of Jim Lane, the attorney representing Aaron Dean. As of 4 p.m. Friday, he had not responded. In a past request for comment, Lane said he was not able to comment due to a judge’s gag order on the case.

Carr said the home of her late mother Yolanda Carr and sister is one that carries pain, but it’s also one with “beautiful memories, so we don’t want to give up." They’re in the process of renovating it and Carr said it was her hope to see it as a gaming center one day.

"It would be a safe place for kids to come after school and even on the weekends and gather. I think gaming is a time when you learn social skills and learn how to adapt and work with others," she said.

As the family approaches the one-year anniversary of Jefferson's death, Carr reflected on the plans her sister had in place such as attending medical school.

"She was so resilient. There was no obstacle that she couldn’t cross. Going to medical school was that next obstacle that we were all excited because we knew… she’s going to do it, you know?" Carr said. "It wasn’t an 'option.' We never had a thought or inkling of, 'Oh, maybe.' It was like, 'No she’s going to do it and she’s going to be extremely great in it.'"

As they wait for justice, Carr said she wanted people to know and understand her sister’s story.

“It could be anyone. Anyone could look out of her window,” she said. “This could be anyone and we’re hoping that is how she is part of the change, to understand that she could have been anyone.”

The family has planned a caravan parade on Sunday at 3 p.m. followed by a candlelight vigil. On Monday, they plan to host a balloon release at 10 a.m. at the Lincoln Memorial Cemetery.

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