On Monday, the former Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson through a back window of her home while responding to a welfare check was charged with murder after resigning from the force.
But as her family makes it clear they will do everything in her power to seek justice, many want to know more about the 28-year-old woman who has unfortunately joined Botham Jean in the latest trend of Black Americans being murdered by police in their own homes.
Below are five things to know about Jefferson; who she was, what she meant to the people around her, and the details surrounding the tragedy that took her away from her loved ones far too soon.
She was dedicated to her family
One thing that has been evident since Jefferson’s fatal shooting is her notable dedication to her family. In fact, she’d just recently moved in with her mother, who had health problems and needed assistance, and was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew just moments prior to her death.
That evening, Jefferson’s oldest sister Ashley Carr said she was having a fun night in, “where no one would have expected her life to be in harm’s way, especially not at the hands of a civil servant who had taken the oath to serve and protect.”
“She came to the hospital in Plano where I was recovering from a major heart surgery,” another sister, Amber Carr said, noting Jefferson was looking forward to taking her nephews to the State Fair of Texas while Carr recovered. “She came and brought me food. She brought me a new cell phone.”
“The relationship she has with my sons is indescribable,” continued the distraught sibling. “Sometimes people think that they’re her kids, not mine.”
Her nephew watched the entire incident
CNN confirmed that Jefferson’s 8-year-old nephew actually witnessed his beloved Aunt “Tay” slain. Reportedly, at first the young woman thought she was dealing with a home intruder and spent her final minutes trying to protect the boy from what they both believed to be a prowler.
“He saw her when she fell,” Lee Merritt, an attorney for Jefferson’s family told the network. “He was present the entire time. He never left the room.”
Jefferson reportedly tried to protect the boy from what they thought was a burglar just before the shooting started and may have saved his life. After witnessing that trauma, the 8-year-old was also tasked with breaking the news to his mother that her sister was gone.
She was a brilliant student
In just a short amount of time the Carr family has made it a point to let the world know who they lost and what a great person she was. In 2014 she earned a degree in biology from Xavier University of Louisiana.
Also, tending to her mother’s ailing health didn’t stop her from perusing her professional and academic dreams. In fact, Jefferson sold medical pharmaceutical equipment from her home and was excited about her plans to apply to medical school.
She was civically engaged
One of the reasons Jefferson’s community has stepped up on her behalf with such fervor is because she had a habit of doing the same for them when she alive.
Back in 2013 she found out that StarTran bus driver Troy Fischer was caught on video assaulting one of his riders and made it a point to champion a petition demanded the company disavow him for his actions.
“When you do the crime you do the time. Crimes cannot go unpunished no matter what they are,” she wrote on Facebook. “It makes a mockery of the U.S justice system if people feel comfortable enough to commit crimes. Whether this was his normal behavior or not, he should still be dealt with like any other person in that situation. If I speed I will get a ticket. I may not normally speed but that doesn’t change the fact that I have a ticket. Unless this man has a mental illness or a massive brain tumor that impaired his judgement he needs to be properly dealt with.”
Her words are now chilling in light of what ultimately ended up happening to her, but also give us a clear glimpse of what she would want to be done in the wake of her shooting.
She isn’t an anomaly in Fort Worth
As ridiculous and tragic as Jefferson’s death is, the fact that she died shortly after the verdict in the Botham Jean trial speaks to an issue that may run deeper than officials in Texas may want to admit.
Lee Merritt, the family’s attorney, says he and his counterparts believe that the police department in their area is in need of a “serious systematic reform.”
“I want to go ahead and dispel the myth that this is somehow a one-off — that this was just a bad-luck incident from an otherwise sound department,” he said. “The Fort Worth Police Department is on pace to be one of the deadliest police departments in the United States.”
Ex-Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean was booked Monday evening into the Tarrant County Jail, where his bail was set at $200,000 and he was released on bond later that evening.
“I remember Lee talking about them not liking to arrest cops, so they did that,” said Jefferson’s brother, Adarius Carr. “That’s a huge step for us. They are willing to understand this is serious and we mean it. Justice is important to us.”