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Atatiana Jefferson's Family Calls For A Trial Date For Her Killer

Kwame Osei stands in front of a group of protesters holding signs for Atatiana Jefferson. His sign is the largest. It's a wide black banner, with an illustration of Jefferson's face and the words "We Want Justice!!! #SAYHERNAME."
Miranda Suarez
/
KERA News
Kwame Osei holds a banner memorializing Atatiana Jefferson outside the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in downtown Fort Worth. About 20 people gathered there to demand a trial date for Aaron Dean, the former police officer charged with killing Atatiana Jefferson in her home in 2019.

Activists and members of Atatiana Jefferson’s family protested outside the doors of Fort Worth’s criminal courts building Tuesday morning, calling for swift action to bring Jefferson’s killer to trial.

In October 2019, a white Fort Worth police officer shot Jefferson, a Black woman, through the window of her home. Body camera footage shows that he never identified himself as a police officer.

Jefferson died, and the officer, Aaron Dean, has been indicted for murder.

Judge David Hagerman said last October that Dean’s trial may be held in August 2021, but some of Jefferson’s family members want more than a tentative date. They joined activists from Enough Is Enough Fort Worth, a racial justice group, for the protest.

About 20 people stood outside the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center on Tuesday morning, holding signs and chanting “Say her name: Atatiana!” as people entered and exited the building.

Amber Carr, Jefferson’s sister, was there. She told reporters that an August trial, nearly two years after Jefferson’s killing, is too late.

“We need a date, and a speedy date, not August. We need one right around the corner,” she said.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed hearings in Dean’s case, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Carr said that shouldn't be used as a reason anymore.

"They just had the Grammys, so don't tell me we can't have court,” she said.

Jefferson’s killing has reverberated throughout her family. Carr’s son, Zion, was there when Jefferson was shot and killed. The 9-year-old had been playing video games with his aunt that night, and he has struggled in the aftermath, Carr said.

Jefferson’s cousin, Cerese Fortson, said she wants closure. She gathered before sunrise with other protesters at the house where Jefferson was killed before heading downtown.

“Let us get to the point where we can heal," she said. "We can’t even start healing until we have him accountable for what he did. Period."

In an emailed statement, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office said it is prepared to go to trial.

“We, too, want justice for Atatiana Jefferson and all the victims of crime in Tarrant County who have had justice delayed because of the pandemic,” the statement reads.

It added that the judge in the case, not the district attorney, is in charge of setting trial dates.

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at msuarez@kera.org. You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

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