Atatiana Jefferson’s family held a press conference on October 14, expressing their desire for justice after Jefferson was shot and killed by Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean in the early morning hours of October 12. Her nephew was with her when the shooting happened and they had been enjoying a late night of playing video games when the unspeakable tragedy happened. During the conference, they asked for an independent investigation done outside the Fort Worth Police Department, and asked why Aaron Dean is not arrested yet.
Meanwhile, supporters of the family have raised more than $170,000 in a GoFundMe to help with Jefferson’s funeral expenses. Here is what you need to know about Atatiana Jefferson‘s family.
1. Atatiana Jefferson Would Not Let Her Nephew Look Out the Window. She Checked & Was Shot & Killed through Her Bedroom Window.
Her eight-year-old nephew, Zion, recalls many details about what happened the night his beloved Auntie Tay was killed, shared Lee Merritt, the civil rights lawyer representing Atatiana Jefferson’s family.
During the press conference, civil rights attorney Lee Merritt said: “Zion surprises me with how much he recalls… He was present the entire time, he never left the room… Tay did not allow him to check the windows, she checked herself…”
Merritt then mused about what might have happened if Zion had looked out those windows first.
“He saw her when she fell,” he said sadly. “He has found a way to maintain more composure than the Fort Worth police dept. He still offers his mother and family consolement. He encourages his mother when he hears her crying in the middle of the night… He’s learned coping mechanisms in school and he encourages his mother to try one of those out.”
2. Her Family Is Calling for an Independent Investigation of the Shooting
At a news conference on Monday morning before the name of the officer was released, Atatiana Jefferson’s family called for an independent investigation of the shooting, since a Fort Worth police officer was involved. You can watch the full press conference here.
In a written statement, Atatiana’s sister Ashley Carr asked officials to follow her sister’s example of integrity when conducting an investigation.
“Be honorable when it comes to narrating the memory of this beautiful soul,” she said. “…have integrity and bring the federal government in to investigate.”
Adarius Carr, Jefferson’s brother, also called for an independent investigation and asked why Aaron Dean was not arrested.
“Fort Worth Police cannot investigate themselves. … This man murdered someone,” Adarius Carr said. “He should be arrested.”
Adarius served in the Navy for 12 years and said he did so because “we want to make (this world) a better place.”
Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus said later in the day that he reached out to the Texas Rangers about taking over the investigation and they declined. He said they were brought in too late to be interested in the case.
Kraus said that a preliminary case has also been presented to the FBI as a possible civil rights violation. Aaron Dean will still face criminal charges despite resigning. He has not been arrested as of the time of publication.
Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney representing the family, posted on Twitter after the Fort Worth Police press conference, seeking an independent investigation.
He wrote: “The resignation of Aaron Dean from the @fortworthpd is a slap in the face to the family of Atatiana Jefferson. He should have been fired the night he murdered Atatiana. Being allowed to resign instead of being arrested for his criminal misconduct provides no solace to this family”
3. Ashley Carr Said Her Sister Treated Her Children Like Her Own
Amber Carr’s son, Zion, was the young boy who was with Atatiana when she was killed. Amber is 11 months older than Atatiana and they’re very close. She said in the family’s press conference that Zion comforts and consoles her, even though he was the one who witnessed Atatiana’s death. She said her son will be getting counseling.
“At this time he’s my motivation and my biggest encourager,” she said. “He holds me, he hugs me, and these are the things I should be doing for him… I believe it’s because my sister was a big part of him.”
Amber said that she last saw Atatiana when she visited her in Plano, where she was recovering from major heart surgery. Atatiana and another sister planned to take her children to the fair.
“The relationship she has with my sons is undescribable,” Amber said. “Sometimes people think they’re her kids.”
She described how Atatiana stepped in, helping her children get ready for school and writing out schedules for them so they could be organized. “She helps them become more independent and self-sufficient.”
Ashley Carr, another one of Atatiana’s sisters, had nothing but praise to say about her sister.
“She was a smart, ambitious, a kind person,” she said. “She was a graduate of Xavier University … with a bachelor of science degree in biology… She was a hard worker, where her co-workers saw her as a person of full integrity. … At the age of 28 she decided to move into our mother’s home to help when her health was declining.”
4. Atatiana’s Mother Was in the Hospital When Atatiana Was Shot
Atatiana Jefferson had moved in with her mother to help while she dealt with health issues. The family shared that her mother, Yolanda Carr, was in the hospital when Atatiana was shot and killed.
A father figure of Atatiana Jefferson, Marquis Jefferson, has also spoken to the media about her death. Lee Merritt, the family’s attorney, said he’s a father figure but not her biological father, CBS News reported. Marquis told CBS that the shooting was senseless.
“(She) had her whole life in front of her… I don’t want no hug… I’ll never forget that,” he said, referencing Botham Jean’s brother offering a hug to Amber Guyger during the sentencing phase of her trial.
5. The GoFundMe for the Family Has Raised More than $170,000
The family also took time to confirm during the press conference that the GoFundMe in their name is legitimate and the funds will go to help with the funeral and other expenses.
Some media sources had mentioned that Marquis Jefferson was concerned about the GoFundMe. The family wanted to clarify that it was legitimate. “As a family we have not heard from Mr. Jefferson and if he cares to reach out to us we’ll be happy to address his concerns,” the said in a statement. “The GoFundMe page is approved by Tay’s legal family.”
The GoFundMe has raised more than $170,000 for Atatiana Jefferson’s family as of late Monday afternoon, October 14.