Family members of Atatiana Jefferson, the 28-year-old Black woman who was killed by a white Fort Worth police officer while playing with her nephew, is suing the city and the former officer who fired the fatal shot.
USA Today reports Jefferson’s biological father, Jerome Eschor, her aunt, Venitta Body and a third relative, Arita Eschor were listed as plaintiffs in the federal district court's lawsuit last week.
Jefferson was at her mother’s home on Oct. 12, 2019, when a neighbor called the police, reporting an open door. According to police, Officer Aaron Dean shot from outside through a window when he “perceived a threat.” In bodycam video, two officers responded to the scene and one shouted “put your hands up, show me your hands,” before the shot was fired. The officers did not identify themselves as police in the video.
The boy later told authorities that the two were playing video games when Jefferson heard a noise that she thought were intruders. She drew a handgun, which she was licensed to carry, from her purse before being struck by gunfire.
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Dean resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department shortly before being charged for Jefferson’s murder. He was released on a $200,000 bond two days after the shooting. His trial has been delayed due to coronavirus, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The lawsuit alleges Dean violated Jefferson’s civil rights and also accused him of assault and battery. Further, it says the city of Fort Worth is liable because it “knew or should have known that Defendant Aaron Dean exhibited a pattern of escalating encounters with the public in violation of well-established police practices.” He was reprimanded in a 2018 performance review for missing radio calls and having “tunnel vision.”
“By their deliberate indifference, Defendants the City of Fort Worth Police Department implemented and encouraged policies, practices, and customs with deliberate indifference to the rights of citizens,” reads the lawsuit.
The police department, the lawsuit says, failed to train or discipline Dean properly.”
A spokeswoman for the city said Wednesday it had not been served the lawsuit and could not comment. The Fort Worth Police Department also declined comment.
Jefferson's mother, Yolanda Carr, died in January. Marquis Jefferson, who had been reported as her father at the time of the shooting, died last November.
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