FORT WORTH, Texas — Tuesday marks two years since Atatiana Jefferson was shot and killed in her own home by a Fort Worth police officer.
The Fort Worth community is marking the day by honoring Jefferson. The Fort Worth City Council will proclaim Oct. 12, 2021 "Tay Day" during Tuesday night's city council meeting. "Tay" was Jefferson's nickname to her friends and family.
City Councilmember Chris Nettles, who will be presenting the proclamation at Tuesday night's meeting, told WFAA Tuesday that Tay Day came about with help from Jefferson's family.
"We really are doing the best that we can to make sure that we bring healing and unity to the community," Nettles said. "Today is about Atatiana Jefferson. "It's not about any other things that are coming down the line and next month or two. This is about celebrating her life."
In October 2020, Fort Worth City Council voted to rename a main thoroughfare in east Fort Worth from East Allen Avenue at Interstate 35 West to East Maddox Avenue at U.S. Highway 287 after Jefferson. The Atatiana Jefferson Memorial Parkway now runs near Jefferson's home.
This September, the city council also discussed designating a portion of I-35W frontage roads in Fort Worth in Jefferson’s honor. The city council adopted a resolution to do so in August.
But the city's plans to designate part of I-35W for Jefferson hit a roadblock after they talked to TxDOT representatives.
I-35 is also known as the “Purple Heart Trail.” Due to this existing designation, TxDOT told the city “the existing designation would not allow TxDOT to approve an additional designation and post any signage on the I-35W main lanes,” according to an informal report.
However, the city does have the option of renaming the frontage roads. This would require roughly 700 property owners to change their addresses from North/South Freeway to Atatiana Jefferson Freeway. It would include about 229 property owners in Nettles’ District 8.
No further action has been taken at this time, but Nettles said things are in the works on that front.
"Although there are some obstacles and some hurdles that we have to climb, we were able to put it on the agenda. We were able to move it forward and it has started to come to fruition," Nettles said. "We're still working through that process. One of the things that we can do is ask for a state legislator to take it up to the Texas State House and then have them vote for it and then…they'll be able to send it to TxDOT and they will move on it as it relates to the actual highway itself, and not the frontage road."
Now-former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean shot and killed Jefferson in her own home in the early morning hours of Oct. 12, 2019 after a neighbor called Fort Worth police for a welfare check because of an open door at the home, according to officials.
Jefferson was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when Dean walked into her backyard. According to police records, Jefferson grabbed her gun and got up to look out the window when she was shot.
Dean didn't announce he was a police officer when he walked around the house, according to an arrest warrant.
Dean resigned as an officer before he could be fired, according to police officials.
Dean's jury trial is expected to begin on Tuesday, Nov. 16 in Tarrant County, according to court records. A gag order is in place.
Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker tweeted about the anniversary of Jefferson's death Tuesday, saying, "This is an incredibly meaningful day for our community to honor her memory and lasting legacy, celebrate the life she lived, and send our continued prayers and support to her family and friends."
Attorney Lee Merritt, who represents the Jefferson family in its case against Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean and who is also running for Texas Attorney General, also tweeted about the anniversary of Jefferson's killing.
"Our community remains committed to justice for Atatiana," he wrote.
Over the weekend, a parade led by Merritt that included cars and community members lined the streets of downtown Fort Worth as the group went from the Fort Worth Convention Center and down Commerce Street and Main Street.
"Atatiana Jefferson's family, particularly her sisters Ashley and Amber and her brother Darius, have been working really hard to make sure her name is alive," Merritt said Saturday. "That people continue to advocate for justice, not only for a murder conviction for Aaron Dean in the upcoming trial, but for systemic change throughout Fort Worth."
"Although it's been two years, we haven't forgotten what has happened to this sister," Nettles said. "It could’ve been me, it could’ve been my daughter, cousin, my son and so people have come together to show their community support for this family."