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'Still a battle': Atatiana Jefferson's sisters mark three years since she was killed by a Fort Worth police officer

Former officer Aaron Dean is accused of murder in Jefferson's death and is still awaiting trial.

FORT WORTH, Texas — October 12 marks three years since 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson was shot and killed at her home by a Fort Worth police officer.

“My sister didn’t do anything wrong. She was at home like you’re supposed to be at 2 a.m. in the morning, minding her business,” Ashley Carr said. “We should be probably celebrating her finishing medical school, you know.”

On Oct. 12, 2019, Jefferson was at her home in Fort Worth, playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew, Zion. A neighbor called a non-emergency line asking police to make sure she was okay because her door was open, and it was after 2 a.m.

Police arrived to what was labeled as an “open structure” call. Thirty-six-year-old Aaron Dean, a second-year officer, never announced his presence while looking around the home. 

Then, he made it to the back of the home. Jefferson approached her window with her gun after hearing someone creeping in the back of her home, according to court documents, and when she opened the blinds, Dean fired a single shot that killed Jefferson.

“It’s still a battle. It’s still going on and it never ends until justice prevails,” Amber Carr, Zion’s mother and Jefferson’s sister said.

Zion has been at the front of many protests and remembrance events for Jefferson and is now 11.

“He feels like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders,” Amber said. “We try to remind him he’s a child. You don’t have to figure it out. We’re here to figure it out for you.”

The Atatiana Project is now what Ashley and Amber say provides them motivation to keep going and the ability to keep Jefferson’s name alive. The charity provides urban youth the ability to receive additional STEAM education, one of Jefferson’s passions.

“Our goal is just to expand that more and to touch more lives in the DFW area,” Ashley said.

This weekend was the first time Amber has stayed in the home Jefferson was killed in since her death.

“To actually wake up and breathe in my first breath, I really felt a sensation of peace and calmness,” she said.

On the grim anniversary, the family planned to be together and reflect.

“I miss our long talks and conversations about world events,” Ashley said. “It’s little things like that. I think of her every day.”

The trial against Dean has been repeatedly delayed with a start date hoped for nearly one year ago. Ashley and Amber say it’s made the three years longer, but the memories haven’t faded and their mission hasn’t changed.

“She always told us she was going to change the world, and everyone was going to know her name,” Amber said. “We didn’t know it was going to be in this aspect.”

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