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Chasing Clout? Atatiana Jefferson’s Father Pushes Back Against Relatives Who Allegedly Left Him Out of Funeral Planning

Friends and family of Atatiana Jefferson, the Texas woman shot dead in her home by Fort Worth police, must now wait to say their final goodbyes after Jefferson’s father got a restraining order to delay her funeral and burial.

Jefferson’s funeral was set to take place on Saturday, Oct. 19 at The Potter’s House in Dallas before news of the postponing, The Dallas Morning News reported. The family held a private wake Friday afternoon. However, the deceased’s body was not on site after Marquis Jefferson, whom the death certificate names as Atatiana’s father, was granted full authority over her funeral and burial arrangements.

Dallas County Judge Brenda Hull Thompson signed the temporary restraining order Friday, according to the outlet.

Marquis Jefferson filed for the order after he says that he was denied involvement in the final arrangements by his daughter’s aunt, Venitta “Bonita” Body, who’s been handling the young woman’s funeral plans alongside Atatiana’s siblings and other relatives.

In his petition, Marquis argued he would suffer “immediate and irreparable injury for which there’s no adequate remedy at law” if Body and the Golden Gate Funeral Home were allowed to go through with the service without his input.

He’s now planning his own service for Atatiana on Thursday, Oct. 24, at Friendship-West Baptist Church, the newspaper reported. It’s unclear if it will be open to the public.

Marquis and his spokesman, Bruce Carter, discussed their decision to seek the restraining order at a news conference last week, and accused some of those involved in the now-canceled funeral of clout chasing.

“I believe that there’s enough people who are looking for you people to show up so they can lift their platforms,” Carter said, according to FOX 4 News. “They may roll in an empty coffin, who knows. They will sing songs. They’ll dance around. They’ll fall out. They’ll go back, and it’ll be over with. So when you ask me about the things people do for you to show up, they’ll continually do it as long as you show up.”

The spokesman also accused Jefferson’s family of attempting to “defraud” the grieving after a GoFundMe page launched on the family’s behalf raised over $200 thousand dollars in a matter of days. Marquis claims he told his daughter’s relatives money wasn’t needed for the funeral, as he already had an insurance policy.

“It’s been very tough,” he said of Atatiana’s passing. “Tay would want me to be strong, I have to be strong. My mission isn’t over.”

Relatives and family attorney Lee Merritt have argued that Marquis isn’t Atatiana’s biological dad and has never had legal custody of her. However, Marquis provided a copy of the birth certificate in his filing Friday listing him as the young woman’s father.

On Monday, the two parties are set to meet in court to decide whether the restraining order will stand and ultimately who has the right to plan Atatiana’s funeral.

Jefferson, 28, was playing video games with her nephew early Saturday when she was shot and killed by police in her mother’s Fort Worth home.

Former officer Aaron Dean and his partner responded to the residence after a concerned neighbor called the police non-emergency line to ask for a welfare check, noting the doors to Jefferson’s home were open and the lights were on.

Police officials later clarified that the officers were actually responding to an “open structure call,” and thus, didn’t announce themselves when they arrived.

Jefferson’s nephew, Zion, told investigators his aunt grabbed a gun from her purse and pointed it at the window after hearing noises outside, according to an arrest affidavit. Footage from Dean’s body-worn camera showed the officer turn toward a window, order Jefferson to “show your hands” before firing a single shot.

Dean resigned from the force last Monday and has since been charged with murder in Jefferson’s slaying.

He’s currently out on bond.

Atlanta Black Star reached out to attorney Lee Merritt for the latest in the dispute between Jefferson’s relatives but has not received a response as of this writing.

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