Family, friends and mourners gathered Thursday to pay respect to Atatiana Jefferson, the 28-year-old Black woman shot dead in her mother’s home by Fort Worth police earlier this month.
Jefferson, affectionately known as “Tay,” is remembered as the fun aunt whose personality could light up a room, CBS Dallas/Fort Worth reported. Her tragic death has left relatives, the Dallas/Forth Worth community and even her college community from Xavier University in Louisiana deeply shaken.
“I never imagined that I would be doing this right now,” Jefferson’s friend Khylir Patton told the outlet. “It was not goodbye when we hugged each other. It was ‘See you at the top, sis.'”
The pre-med student was killed in the early morning hours of Oct. 12 when a police officer shot her through a window of her home. That officer, Aaron Dean, resigned and has since been charged with murder in Jefferson’s death.
A wake for the victim was held Wednesday afternoon, where those in attendance prepared to say their final goodbyes. A family legal dispute briefly halted Jefferson’s service, which was originally planned for last Saturday.
“I want you all to know that we have to be there for one another and we have to love each other, because we don’t know if tomorrow is promised,” Patton said.
Bryan Carter, senior pastor of Concord Church where the funeral was held, lamented the loss of yet another young life, saying, “We are tired of talking to our children about police, tired of crying mothers, tired of funerals.”
“We are here because an amazing lady lived and impacted so many,” he later added.
Via a letter read by the pastor, Jefferson’s mother, Yolanda Carr, recalled her daughter’s “humble boldness,” loving nature and will to succeed. NPR reported that Carr was unable to attend the funeral because she’s been in the hospital.
“You said you were going to change the world,” her letter read. “I believe you still will.”
The family’s attorney Lee Merritt shared photos from the service, showing the family and Jefferson’s nephew Zion, 8, gathered at the burial site. Her turquoise casket, decorated with gold trim, was adorned with bunches of blue and white roses.
“Zion took his time & spoke to everyone he saw crying at the funeral,” Merritt tweeted. “‘It’s going to be ok’ he said. ‘She’s here with us in our hearts. She’s gone on to a better place.’ #AtatianaJefferson”
Zion took his time & spoke to everyone he saw crying at the funeral. It’s going to be ok” he said. “She’s here with us in our hearts.” “She’s gone on to a better place”
Zion Carr is my hero. He is also my inspiration. Let’s fight for him. #AtatianaJefferson pic.twitter.com/MRi7EyrT2c
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) October 24, 2019
Jefferson was up playing video games with her nephew when the tragedy unfolded. She’d left the door open to let in a cool breeze and lost track of time, the family’s lawyer said. A concerned neighbor used the police non-emergency line to request a welfare check after noticing the door was left open and the lights were on — a sight he said was strange for that time of night.
Dean and another officer arrived minutes later, but never announced themselves as police.
According to an affidavit, Jefferson, 28, retrieved a gun from her purse and aimed it at the window after hearing noises outside. Merritt said the victim’s nephew told him his aunt wouldn’t let him go to the window to investigate, and instead went herself.
Police said Dean perceived a threat while investigating the perimeter of the home and opened fire through a window. Bodycam footage released by the department shows the officer quickly turning toward a window after spotting Jefferson inside, ordering her to “show your hands” before firing at her in a matter of seconds.
She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Fort Worth interim Police Chief Ed Kraus decried the shooting, saying there was “absolutely no excuse” for Jefferson’s killing.
Dean is currently free on bond.