Family of Atatiana Jefferson Files Federal Suit Against Against City of Fort Worth

The suit charges her nephew suffered emotional trauma.

The family of a Texas woman killed when a call to police about an open front door led an officer to open fire into the apartment has filed a federal lawsuit against the former officer and the city of Fort Worth. 

Atatiana Jefferson was playing video games in the wee hours of the morning with her 8-year-old nephew, Zion Carr. The front door was left ajar to let in the night breeze. However, a neighbor called the police to report the open door.  

Former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean and his partner opened a fence gate and walked into the back yard. Body-camera footage captured Dean shining his flashlight through the back window of the house. Jefferson heard movement outside and picked up her firearm and went to investigate.  As Jefferson looked out her back window, Dean opened fire, killing her.

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Zion was with his aunt in the bedroom where she was shot. He also watched as Dean and his partner entered the house and performed CPR “as she bled on the floor of her own home,” according to the lawsuit. 

“At the age of 8, Zion Carr was forced to watch the murder of his aunt, Atatiana Jefferson, at the hands of Fort Worth Police,” the lawsuit alleges. 

The Dallas Morning News reports that the family has filed suit against the city of Fort Worth, former officer Aaron Dean, former Police Chief Ed Kraus and former Mayor Betsy due to the emotional trauma inflicted on young Zion.  The child was also questioned by police about what he witnessed without a parent present. 

The suit places responsibility for Zion’s trauma on the city because the police department “has displayed a consistent and systematic failure to properly train and supervise its officers on the proper use of force.” The suit lists numerous cases that it says are examples of Fort Worth police officers using excessive force

Additionally, the suit blames Dean for the death of Jefferson’s mother, Yolanda Carr, who died just 90 days after her daughter’s death.

Dean was arrested and charged with murder days after Jefferson’s death. He was allowed to resign from the force, and has been out of jail on $200,000 bond since Oct. 14, 2019. His trial date was set Tuesday (Sept. 21) for November 16, more than two years since the shooting.  

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