George Floyd

Trauma Continues for Lives Touched by Police Killings

North Texas has not been immune to police brutality and lives lost to police officers

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Botham Jean was shot and killed by a former Dallas police officer inside his own apartment. It was another story of a Black man being shot by police that made national headlines. NBC 5’s Larry Collins spoke with Jean’s mother about the trauma that follows these families long after the loss and well after the trials.

One year after the murder of George Floyd, the nation pauses to take note of where we are, what has changed and where work still needs to be done.

North Texas has not been immune to police brutality and lives lost to police officers.

The names Botham Jean and Atatiana Jefferson will not be forgotten as the conversation about police reform and training continue across the nation.

Fired Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was found guilt in the murder of Jean after she shot and killed him in his own apartment in 2018. Guyger said she went to the wrong floor of her apartment building and entered Jean’s apartment instead of her own.

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“I thought that Botham’s death sparked this broader conversation and honestly I thought that it would have been the beginning of the end of police brutality and a lot of what we’ve been seeing in relation to Black lives,” said Jean’s mother, Allison Jean. “However, there have been so many other deaths of Black people.”

Atatiana Jefferson was shot and killed by a former Fort Worth police officer who was responding to a call for a wellness check in 2019. NBC 5’s Larry Collins sat down with her neighbor to talk about the trauma that surrounds police shootings and its grip on those left behind.

“Just on the heels of the Amber Guyger trial in 2019 we had Atatiana Jefferson,” Jean said. “Then 2020 we had so many. We had Ahmaud Arbery. We had Breonna Taylor. We had George Floyd. Daunte Wright,” Jean said. “It’s just one on top of the other. And the pain that is inflicted on an already wounded heart from Botham’s death. It’s just perpetual. It just continues.”

James Smith in Fort Worth has come up with a term for it – "Pancake Trauma."

“Pancake Trauma is the continual stacking of traumatic episodes in one’s life. Atatiana Jefferson, Ahmaud Arbery, Daunte [Wright], Breonna Taylor, George Floyd,” Smith said. “So, any time an incident such as these happen – it’s another stack on an already traumatized pancake.”

Smith was the man who called police for a wellness check when he saw his across-the-street neighbor’s door left open late at night. Then Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean would arrive after the call.

“They passed to two open doors and went to the back of the house and in less than three minutes on the property – a shot was fired,” Smith recalled. “And when I heard that shot, I also heard… and I believe it to my heart… Atatiana say, ‘don’t let them get away with it.’”

Smith has been working to keep Jefferson’s name in the public eye. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dean still hasn’t had a trial in the case but has been charged with murder.

He has felt the trauma of her death every day.

“It’s like when you have a vinyl record and you have a scratch mark. I’m that mark in the vinyl record. Even if you move it off the thing and go back to the beginning – you’re still going to that [scratch],” Smith explained. “Now, I could take that needle and move it over to continue. I won’t do that until after the trial. Because I can’t heal until after this trial.”