Tragedy has struck the family of Atatiana Jefferson for the third time since her premature demise.
Jefferson’s dutiful sister, who spent many of the last days of her life in court hoping to see justice for her sister, has died.
On Wednesday, Feb. 1, in celebration of his birthday, civil rights attorney Lee Merritt took to his social media to promote a crowdfunding campaign for a relative of one of his clients. He shared with his 342,000 followers his desire for them to forgo giving him a gift and asked them to donate to a GoFundMe for the children of Amber Carr, the sister of a woman killed by a former Fort Worth police officer.
Jefferson’s’ sister Carr, 33, died on Monday, Jan. 30. She was also the mother of Zion, 11, Jefferson’s’ nephew, the sole eyewitness to the fatal shooting in October 2019, and who testified during the December trial. According to Merritt, she suffered from congestive heart failure, which stopped her from coming to the last days of the trial.
She was hospitalized for weeks and was informed by doctors she was not eligible for a heart transplant, ABC 8 reports.
Merritt commented on the children’s mental well-being earlier in January.
He said, “The hardest part about all of this, for me and for the family, is dealing with the children who are growing up experience trauma after trauma. Zion was 8 years old when he watched his auntie shot to death. He’s’ now playing with his mother in her hospital bedroom.”
On the morning of Carr’s’ death, he tweeted, “Amber Carr passed away peacefully this morning. She was surrounded by family and loved ones. We are asking for your continued prayers and support as her two young sons deal with her transition.”
Fort Worth city councilman Chris Nettles also posted, writing, “We are heartbroken to hear about the passing of Amber Carr, sister to Ashley Carr & Atatiana Carr-Jefferson and mother to Zion & Zayden Carr.”
“Anyone who had the pleasure of meeting Amber knew her smile lit up every room and her love of family transcended time,” Nettles posted on Facebook. “Our hearts and prayers are with the entire Carr family right now as they cope with another devastating loss. We are grateful for the time we shared with Amber on this earth and are comforted knowing she has reunited with her mother and sister.”
Merritt captioned his birthday wish for a home for Zion and his family on Instagram, “This is my birthday wish for anyone wanting to send a gift. Should cost about $450K in this market. We have already raised almost $130K so only 320K to go. If everyone gives $1.00, we can get this done today.”
Additionally, funds gathered during the fundraiser would “go directly to Ashley Carr (Auntie to Zion & Zayden as well as the executor of the estates of Atatiana Jefferson, Yolanda Carr [mom] and Amber Carr [sister]).”
According to the post, Zion and Zayden, 7, will have to move in with their aunt Ashley. However, Ashley’s’ current apartment in Houston is too small to accommodate them all. Merritt’s’ desire is for the people to help the family purchase a house for them to all live in Dallas.
In addition to providing housing, the money will help Ashley adopt the two boys. These concerns are not just a worry of the adults in the boys’ lives, but Zion, who is already in therapy surrounding the circumstances of his aunt’s death, has mentioned his “anxiety.”
“Zion has expressed anxiety about where he is going to live and wanting the stability of a home,” the GoFundMe profile read. “This is not the kind of thing an 11-year-old should be worried about as he prepares to bury his mother.”
The GoFundMe was started on Dec. 4, with a goal of $450,000. With almost 6,000 donations, the family has raised more than $250,000.
Tragically, the family has endured much pain and suffering over the last four years since Merritt’s’ client’s death. Two weeks after Jefferson’s funeral, her father, Marquis Jefferson died. Her mother, Yolanda Carr, died a few weeks later, in January 2020. Like Amber, her mother died of congestive heart failure, also, NBC 5 DFW reports.
Jefferson was shot on Oct. 12, 2019, around 2:23 a.m. by Aaron Dean, who had been responding to a wellness check. He shot her through the window of her home because he saw her with a firearm.
He said he drew his weapon and fired because he perceived her as being a threat to him. She, not knowing he was an officer, believed he was a threat. She heard bustling outside her window and had her gun, according to testimony during the trial, to protect her and her nephew.
The two were up late, enjoying each other’s company during an auntie-nephew sleepover. They were playing video games at that late hour.
On Dec. 15, Dean was convicted for Jefferson’s death. A Tarrant County jury charged him with manslaughter. He received a sentence of 11 years, 10 months and 12 days in state prison.
While the community raises money, the family prepares for Amber’s homegoing service. Funeral arrangements have not yet been shared publicly.