Atatiana Jefferson’s family seeks ‘accountability’ as ex-officer stands trial for his fatal shooting

The family of a black woman who was fatally shot in her home by a former Fort Worth, Texas, police officer in 2019 said they have been waiting for justice for more than three years.

Atatiana Jefferson’s sister, Ashley Carr, said it is “surreal” to finally see the case go to trial.

“We’ve been fighting and worrying about having this day and making sure my sister’s death is held accountable,” he told “Good Morning America.” “But now it’s really here, and it’s an understanding that this is not in our control. This is in the control of the juries.”

Atatiana Jefferson’s sister, Ashley Carr, talks about her family’s fight for justice after her sister was fatally shot by a former Fort Worth police officer.

ABC News

Opening statements began Monday at the trial of former police officer Aaron Dean, who was charged with murder after fatally shooting Jefferson at his Fort Worth, Texas, home on October 12, 2019. Dean was responding to the Request from a concerned neighbor to check on Jefferson’s status. welfare after noticing that the front door of his home was unlocked at night, police said.

Dean pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Although some of the 12 selected jurors are people of color, none are black, sparking backlash and sparking protests in 2019.

The trial so far has hinged on the gun in Jefferson’s hand just before Dean shot him. During opening arguments, his defense attorney Miles Brissette argued that Dean was acting in self-defense after seeing Jefferson’s silhouette in the window holding a firearm with a green laser pointed directly at him. The prosecution, on the other hand, argued that Dean could not have seen his gun in the split second before he opened fire.

The trial’s first witness was Zion Carr, Jefferson’s then-8-year-old nephew who was playing video games and cooking hamburgers with his aunt just before Dean shot him in his home. During cross-examination, 11-year-old Carr was asked to recount the traumatic events of that night, testifying that his aunt had never lifted the gun from his side.

Brissette declined ABC News’ request for comment.

Ed Kraus, the Fort Worth police chief at the time of the shooting who has since retired, said in 2019 that Dean’s conduct violated multiple police department policies, including “our use of force policy, our de-escalation and unprofessional behavior.” conduct.”

“I certainly couldn’t understand why he had to lose his life,” Kraus said at the time. “On behalf of the men and women of the Fort Worth Police Department, I am very sorry for what happened.”

PHOTO: Amber Carr, center, leaves the courtroom after the first day of the murder trial of former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean, charged with the shooting death of his sister, Atatiana Jefferson, in 2019, on May 5 December 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas

Amber Carr, center, leaves the courtroom after the first day of the murder trial of former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean, accused of the 2019 shooting death of his sister, Atatiana Jefferson, on Dec. 5 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. .

Amanda McCoy/AP

A Xavier University pre-med graduate, Jefferson is survived by her three siblings: Ashley, Amber and Adarius, who say they have been each other’s “support system” their entire lives. Her mother, Yolanda Carr, who died a few months after Jefferson’s death, nicknamed her children the “A-Team” because all of her names begin with the letter A.

“We understand as a family that there is nothing we can do in this process other than be there,” Ashley Carr said. “So our goal is to be there to make sure everyone knows that Atatiana was loved.”

Ashley Carr said she and her family have tried to “keep up the momentum” to ensure Jefferson’s name is not forgotten, including speaking at the White House and US Senate.

“They joined the fight for families across the country,” Lee Merritt, the family’s attorney, told “Good Morning America.” “They have been part of a community of activists and organizers who were at the forefront of what became an important moment in history during the Black Lives Matter movement.”

The Jefferson brothers also started a non-profit organization called Project Atatiana that strives to promote STEAM education and activities among urban youth. They even ran a free summer camp where kids could build their own computers and robots.

“Our goal is just to amplify how beautiful Atatiana was,” Carr said, remembering her sister as an avid video game player, animal lover and aspiring medical student. “If she enters our website, we say that she did not die. She will multiply through the generations we serve.”

“She was my little sister, but she was a great person,” he added.

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