Fort Worth, Texas, approves $3.5 million settlement for child who witnessed fatal police shooting of aunt Atatiana Jefferson

Fort Worth, Texas, approves $3.5 million settlement for child who witnessed fatal police shooting of aunt Atatiana Jefferson

The city of Fort Worth, Texas, will pay Zion Carr, who witnessed the fatal police shooting of his aunt Atatiana Jefferson in 2019, a $3.5 million settlement, city officials said.

Zion, then 8, was at Jefferson's home playing video games with her when then-Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean shot and killed the 28-year-old while responding to a call requesting a welfare check.

Watching his aunt's death unfold in front of his eyes caused Zion to suffer “anxiety, terror and agony,” according to a federal lawsuit his mother, Amber Carr, filed in 2021. It said that Zion had been left with “severe and extreme mental and emotional distress” and blamed the city for his trauma. Two years after the lawsuit was filed, Amber Carr, who was Jefferson’s sister, died after a long battle with congestive heart failure.

Zion Carr, 11, testifies during the murder trial of former police officer Aaron Dean on Dec. 5, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Amanda McCoy / Pool via AP file)
Zion Carr, 11, testifies during the murder trial of former police officer Aaron Dean on Dec. 5, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. (Amanda McCoy / Pool via AP file)

The city announced earlier this month that it had proposed a $3.5 million settlement. The Fort Worth City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the payment.

“I for one, am excited about this opportunity to make sure that he can go to college and do things that his mother and his aunt wanted him to do as they were raising him,” Councilman Chris Nettles said, thanking Mayor Mattie Parker and the council for its work getting the settlement approved.

Atatiana Jefferson. (Family photo via NBC Dallas-Fort Worth)
Atatiana Jefferson. (Family photo via NBC Dallas-Fort Worth)

Parker said in a Nov. 2 statement that the payment was “the right thing to do.”

“I hope this can bring a degree of reconciliation and healing for Atatiana Jefferson’s loved ones,” she said.

The attorney representing Zion could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

Jefferson was home babysitting and playing video games with Zion around 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2019, when she heard a noise outside. Dean did not announce himself as a police officer, the family has said, and bypassed a gate to the home’s backyard. Jefferson grabbed her legally owned gun for protection and went over to a window to investigate, according to the lawsuit.

Body camera footage released by police showed Dean and his partner looking through a window with a flashlight and yelling for Jefferson to put her hands up shortly before she was shot.

The two officers were at the home after a neighbor requested a welfare check because the home’s front door was open. The family said the door was left ajar to allow a cool breeze to blow inside, according to the lawsuit.

Image: Aaron Dean (Amanda McCoy / Star-Telegram via AP, Pool)
Image: Aaron Dean (Amanda McCoy / Star-Telegram via AP, Pool)

Dean resigned from the police department and was charged with Jefferson’s murder. Zion testified at Dean’s trial. The former officer was sentenced last year to more than 11 years in prison.

The settlement will be split into lump sums to cover living expenses, a college savings plan and scheduled payments to Zion up to age 40, Deputy City Attorney Laetitia Coleman Brown said. He will receive most of the money “later in life,” she said, at the request of his family.

“The city as well as his family were totally on board with each other in providing an amount that would take care of him through 18, making sure that he was able to go to college, make sure that he was incentivized to go to college, and making sure that he was taken care of for a longer period of time,” she said.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com