A foundation started to honor slain PwC associate Botham Jean is offering its support to the family of Atatiana Jefferson, a Black woman who, like Jean, was shot and killed by a Texas police officer at home.
“Along with emotional support, the Botham Jean Foundation will be making a monetary donation to your family to assist you during this time,” Allisa Findley, Jean’s sister and foundation president, wrote in a letter to Jefferson’s family.
“Our prayers are with your family for strength and that justice prevails,” Findley added.
Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean killed Jefferson Oct. 12 at her mother’s home, which Jefferson was staying at temporarily.
The 29-year-old woman had been playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew about 2:30 a.m. when officers called to the home to check on a door left open, according to an arrest affidavit Fort Worth police emailed Atlanta Black Star Friday.
“Officer Dean then shined his light into a back window of a dark room and observed someone inside,” authorities said in the affidavit. “Officer Dean gave order to ‘Put your hands up, show me your hands’ without identifying himself as police and fired his handgun one time through the window.”
Dean was released on a $200,000 bond hours after being taken to Tarrant County Jail on a murder charge Monday, according to jail records.
Lee Merritt, an attorney for both the Jean and Jefferson families, started a GoFundMe page for the Jefferson family to support funeral costs and other expenses associated with the woman’s death.
“Before law enforcement goes about their pattern of villainizing this beautiful peaceful woman, turning her into a suspect, a silhouette, or threat, let me tell you about 28 y/o #AtatianaJefferson ‘Tay,'” Merritt said on the page.
Jefferson was a pre-med graduate of Xavier University who worked in pharmaceutical equipment sales and often stayed up on Friday nights playing video games with her nephew, Merritt said.
“Her mom had recently gotten very sick, so she was home taking care of the house and loving her life,” Merritt said. “There was no reason for her to be murdered. None. We must have justice.”
Findley shared another of Merritt’s Facebook posts, which included bodycam video from the morning of Jefferson’s death.
“THE COLOR OF OUR SKIN IS NOT A WEAPON. STOP KILLING US!” Findley captioned the post.
She later extended her “deepest sympathy to each and every” family member of Jefferson in the letter to them Tuesday.
“Losing a family member is hard in any circumstance,” Findley said. “Having a loved one taken in this horrific manner is one far more traumatic and a pain no family should have to bear.”
“Unfortunately, too many families have had to suffer at the hands of those paid to serve and protect us,” Findley added.
Former Dallas cop Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years Oct. 2 in Jean’s death.
Guyger has said she thought she was walking into her own unit the day she entered Jean’s apartment and fatally shot him.
Jean’s younger brother has since said publicly he forgives the officer.
“I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug please, please,” Brandt Jean asked Judge Tammy Kemp after she allowed him to make a statement on the stand Wednesday.
The Botham Jean Foundation’s donation to Jefferson’s family is in keeping with its mission to support “families impacted by police brutality due to the manner in which Botham’s life was cut short.”
The aim of the nonprofit is to “provide aid to the most vulnerable” and add to the legacy of the 26-year-old who “devoted his life to helping people who were less fortunate than him.”
“As long as poverty, injustice & inequality persist, none of us can truly rest,” the foundation said on its website.