Her name is known nationwide today. But who was Atatiana Jefferson?
Activist Shaun King posted a series of photos in an effort to humanize the woman, whose death-by-cop has outraged many.
“Atatiana Jefferson was the baby of the family,” King wrote on Instagram along with a family photo of the victim and her siblings as children.
“We decided to share these family photos to help you understand precisely whose life was stolen when this murderer shot and killed her through her bedroom window. She was their baby sister. Do you understand what I’m saying? To this family she’s not a hashtag or trending topic. She was their baby sister.”
“That’s little Atatiana Jefferson on the left,” King wrote in another IG post with another throwback family photo. “She was their baby and the whole family adored her.
Jefferson was 28 years old when she was shot and killed inside her home by a Fort Worth police officer.
The Fort Worth police charged officer Aaron York Dean with murder on Monday (October 14) amid a nationwide uproar and demands for transparency.
Dean shot and killed Jefferson through a window at the home where she resided with her mother, who is ill. The aspiring doctor, who had a B.S. in biology from Xavier University and was saving up for medical school, moved into the home when her mother’s health started to fail.
On the morning of her murder, she had been up all night playing the video game “Call of Duty” with her 8-year-old nephew, Zion.
“She was a gamer,” the family’s attorney, Lee Merritt, said during a press conference on Monday. “They lost track of time.”
After neighbor James Smith placed a non-emergency call for a wellness check of the residents over concern that the front door had been open for several hours, a Fort Worth tactical team descended on the house.
Dean’s bodycam video showed that he yelled for someone to “Put your hands up,” without identifying himself as law enforcement. He fired his gun and killed Jefferson in front of Zion.
“Mugshot of Aaron Dean. Charged with murder,” King wrote. “He is in the Tarrant County jail right now on a $200,000 bond but is expected to be bailed out by his police union any minute now.”
In an earlier post, following the release of Dean’s name, King wrote, “He was allowed to resign this morning instead of being fired. Chief just said he ‘planned to fire him later today,’ but that he quit before he could fire him. We don’t believe you.”
After Dean’s arrest, King wrote, “This is a tiny measure of progress. This arrest is not justice. It’s a half-step toward it, but this country has so many wrongs to get right.”
Reactions flooded in from people all across the United States somewhat relieved at the arrest of the officer, but pointing to a much bigger problem that’s far from resolved.
“He should have been arrested that night,” one woman wrote. “We all deserve a federal investigation into what in the hell is going on in Texas PD force.”
“Yet somehow this doesn’t even begin to take away the pain of how terrible her death was,” someone else responded.
Another wrote, “The sad part about all of this is that this sh** will continue to happen in another state next week. May this young sister Rest In Peace.”
One person took to Twitter and wrote, “The other officer who was with Aaron Dean is being treated as a witness to the shooting, Kraus says. #AtatianaJefferson”
King empathized and related to the public’s distress writing, “Killing us, then giving us a tiny semblance of justice, isn’t what we want. It’s not what we demand. We are demanding much, much more.”
On Twitter people wrote messages about the officer charged as well as things to help Atatiana’s memory live on.
“On Saturday, a white Fort Worth police officer shot and killed #AtatianaJefferson in her own home while performing a welfare check,” one woman wrote. “This is the seventh time since June 1 that Fort Worth police have shot a civilian.”
“#AtatianaJefferson was a beautiful 28 year old woman,” one woman tweeted. A college graduate. Working a pharmaceutical sales rep job to save up for med school. She was a daughter, a sister, an aunt. Remember her. Remember her family.”
Ava DuVernay tweeted, “May your ancestors embrace you and lift you up, Dear Sister. Please help guide our rage and our tears towards justice for you - and justice for all.”
Viola Davis tweeted a photo of Atatiana and Zion, tweeting, “#AtatianaJefferson, 28… Is yet another life added to the ever growing roster of Black lives senselessly taken for ‘living while Black.’ At home. Playing video games with her nephew. It cannot be excused. It cannot be prayed away …”
Another woman tweeted, “Jerry & I talk w/our sons abt race in America, normally abt the awareness they need as black MEN in this country. But this wk is different. Today, my sons r looking at me - their black mother - in concern. They hear of #AtatianaJefferson & recognize that she is me. And I am her.”
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