Sister of Atatiana Jefferson Files Lawsuit Against Fort Worth Mayor, Ex-Police Chief and Ex-Officer Involved in Death

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In this Monday, Oct. 14, 2019 photo, flowers lie on the sidewalk in front of the house in Fort Worth, Texas, where a white Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson, a black woman, through a back window of her home. Dean was not heard identifying himself as police on the bodycam video, and Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus has said there was no sign Dean or the other officer who responded even knocked on the front door. Dean resigned before being charged with murder.
In this Monday, Oct. 14, 2019 photo, flowers lie on the sidewalk in front of the house in Fort Worth, Texas, where a white Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson, a black woman, through a back window of her home. Dean was not heard identifying himself as police on the bodycam video, and Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus has said there was no sign Dean or the other officer who responded even knocked on the front door. Dean resigned before being charged with murder.

Last November, The Root reported that a lawsuit was filed against the city of Fort Worth, Texas, and ex-police officer Aaron Dean, who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson on Oct. 12, 2019, while she was watching her 8-year-old nephew at her mother’s house and after a neighbor called a non-emergency police line to report an open door at the home. The lawsuit, which is still pending, was filed by Jefferson’s biological father, aunt and another relative. Now, a similar suit has been filed by Jefferson’s sister against the city, the former officer, the former police chief and the mayor.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Ashley Carr—Jefferson’s sister and the proposed administrator for the estates of Jefferson and their mother, Yolanda Carr, who died early last year—filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday against Fort Worth, Dean, former police Chief Ed Kraus and Mayor Betsy Price.

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The suit, which seeks $10 million in damages, alleges that Dean, who has been charged with murder in Jefferson’s death, used excessive force when he fatally shot Jefferson and that, despite his alleged history of using excessive force, he had gone unchecked by the police department.

From the Dallas News:

Ashley Carr’s lawsuit alleges that Dean used excessive force, leading to Jefferson’s death, and that the department failed to properly screen and monitor him, noting a 2004 assault citation for touching a woman’s breast and concerns in his training records.

The lawsuit says the police department “has displayed a consistent and systematic failure to properly train and supervise its officers on the proper use of force.” It lists more than a dozen instances dating back to 2005 of fatal shootings by Fort Worth officers and other instances where excessive force has been alleged, including the 2016 arrest of Jacqueline Craig.

The lawsuit also notes racial disparities in the arrests made by Fort Worth officers as well as within the ranks of the department.

Jefferson’s story is one of many that has prompted Black people to caution friends and family members never to call the police on their behalf unless there are no other options. It’s also a reminder of how the Second Amendment often seems like it only applies to Black people on paper and how the act of protecting our homes and loved ones while armed can put us in danger by both intruders and the very police officers who are supposed to protect and serve us.

This is all part of how systemic racism in policing works and it’s the reason protests against police violence continue.