Woman killed by Texas of­fi­cer was de­voted to fam­ily

The Saline Courier - - NEWS - As­so­ci­ated Press

DAL­LAS — Ata­tiana Jef­fer­son was de­voted to her fam­ily and had moved into her mother’s Fort Worth home ear­lier this year to help as her mom’s health de­clined, rel­a­tives said.

With her mother in the hos­pi­tal, Jef­fer­son and her 8-year-old nephew were the only two peo­ple home early Satur­day when a po­lice of­fi­cer fired a gun­shot through a back win­dow, killing Jef­fer­son.

The 28-year-old Jef­fer­son, who fam­ily mem­bers some­times called “Tay,” and her nephew had de­voted their night to Call of Duty and were still up play­ing the video game when the of­fi­cer shot. They had the front door of the home open to let the cool breeze in, said Lee Mer­ritt, an at­tor­ney for Jef­fer­son’s fam­ily.

“They did that all night — from sun­set un­til the time that they lost track of time

... when they heard some­one prowl­ing around in the bushes,” Mer­ritt said dur­ing news con­fer­ence with her fam­ily Mon­day.

“He and his Aun­tie Tay ex­pe­ri­enced the fear of some­one prowl­ing in the back­yard,” Mer­ritt said.

“His Aun­tie Tay did not al­low him to check the win­dow, she checked her­self.”

The white Fort Worth of­fi­cer, re­spond­ing to a call from a neigh­bor who was con­cerned about the open door, fired a split-sec­ond af­ter shout­ing at the black woman to show her hands. Po­lice body­cam video shows the of­fi­cer didn’t iden­tify him­self as po­lice.

He re­signed Mon­day and was later charged with mur­der.

Am­ber Carr said her sis­ter, Jef­fer­son, loved spend­ing time with her neph­ews.

“My sis­ter, the re­la­tion­ship she has with my sons is un­de­scrib­able. Some­times peo­ple think that they are her kids and not mine,” said Carr, who also has a 4-yearold son.

She said the last time she spoke to her sis­ter was a week be­fore she was killed.

“She came to the hos­pi­tal in Plano where I was re­cov­er­ing from a ma­jor heart surgery. She came and brought me food, she brought me a new cell­phone,” Carr said at the news con­fer­ence.

Jef­fer­son loved play­ing bas­ket­ball and video games with the 8-year-old, but she also helped him un­der­stand he had to be re­spon­si­ble for get­ting him­self ready for school each morn­ing and wrote out a sched­ule so he could be or­ga­nized, Carr said.

“She helped him be­come more in­de­pen­dent and self­suf­fi­cient,” she said.

Jef­fer­son grew up in the Dal­las area. She grad­u­ated from Xavier Univer­sity of Louisiana in 2014 with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree of sci­ence in bi­ol­ogy, and her fam­ily said she worked from home sell­ing med­i­cal equip­ment.

Another sis­ter, Ash­ley Carr, who read from a state­ment pre­pared by the fam­ily, de­scribed Jef­fer­son as “a smart, am­bi­tious, kind per­son with an ad­ven­tur­ous spirit.” She also called her a hard worker.

She was good about sav­ing money, the fam­ily said af­ter the news con­fer­ence. They had been pay­ing some­one to cut the grass at the mother’s home, but Jef­fer­son bought a lawn mower and weed eater when she moved in and even taught her nephew how to mow.

When Carr picked the 8-year-old up at a fa­cil­ity where po­lice had taken him af­ter Jef­fer­son was killed, it was the boy who told his mother about the shoot­ing.

In the days since, the child has been the one com­fort­ing his mother. Carr said she can see Jef­fer­son’s lov­ing in­flu­ence in the boy’s ac­tions.

“In the mid­dle of the night when I’m cry­ing, he wakes up and tells me to breathe in my nose and out my mouth,” Carr said at the news con­fer­ence. “He holds me, he hugs me.”


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