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Fort Worth Moves Forward With Highway Memorial To Atatiana Jefferson

Police Shooting in Home Cooling Off Period
David Kent
/
AP
In this 2019 photo, flowers lie on the sidewalk in front of the house in Fort Worth, where a white Fort Worth police officer, Aaron Dean, shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson, a Black woman, through a back window of her home.

Tuesday, the Fort Worth City Council voted in support of a proposal to name a section of I-35 for Atatiana Jefferson.

In 2019, white Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean fatally shot Jefferson, a Black woman, through the window of her home.

Now, the city plans to honor her with a memorial designation on a stretch of highway from Downtown Fort Worth to South Loop 820.

Dean shot and killed Jefferson while responding to a call from neighbors concerned about Jefferson's doors being open and the lights being on late in the evening. He was indicted for murder in December 2019.

District 8 Fort Worth City Council member Chris Nettles said the vote will send a strong message to the community.

"Fort Worth has the opportunity to again show its heart," Nettles said. "And not only its heart, but to let a statement be made known."

In October, the city renamed a portion of Allen Avenue and Maddox Avenue in Jefferson’s memory.

District 3 Council member Michael Crain, who voted in favor of the proposal, said he had issues with the process regarding how things are named in the city.

"Across the board, I think there is a process problem that it took two years to get here," Crain said. "There probably should be a process for public citizens to nominate, be a part of the system."

The city proposal will now go to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), with a map identifying and designing prospective memorial marker locations. If approved, TXDOT will authorize the construction, with the city covering all of the costs.

Got a tip? Ana Perez at aperez@kera.org. You can follow Ana on Twitter @anabpez9.

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Corrected: September 15, 2021 at 3:13 PM CDT
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Fort Worth City Council member Michael Crain voted against the highway renaming proposal. He voted in favor.