What we know about Atatiana Jefferson, the woman killed by Fort Worth police in home

Atatiana Jefferson in a Facebook photo
Atatiana Jefferson in a Facebook photo Facebook

A video of a young woman holding up a plastic skeleton and using it to point out various parts of human anatomy has been viewed nearly 900,000 times.

The video seems to capture the spirit of the woman who posted it. Atatiana Jefferson was smart, hard-working and funny, her family said. In the video, after showcasing various anatomical cavities and structures, she thanks the plastic skeleton — who she says is named Gillian — for its participation.

The video started circling on Twitter in the hours after 28-year-old Jefferson was shot and killed by Fort Worth police in her home.

On Saturday at 2:30 a.m., Jefferson was playing Call of Duty with her 8-year-old nephew. Her neighbor called a non-emergency number to ask someone to check on the home in the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue because the front door was open, which he said was not normal.

About three minutes later, two officers parked around the corner from the house, went into the backyard and, when Jefferson looked out the back window, one of them shot her.

Former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean was charged with murder Monday evening. Police said they do not know why Dean and the other officer did not announce themselves at the house or go to the front door.

About an hour before Dean was identified, Jefferson’s family held a press conference in Dallas about her death. On Sunday night, they stood next door to their home where Jefferson was shot; they were joined by several hundred people who chanted Jefferson’s name at a vigil in her honor.

At the press conference and vigil, the family and their attorney described Jefferson as a kind, nurturing woman who loved her family.

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Jefferson attended Xavier University in Louisiana, where she majored in biology. She was considering going back to medical school, her family said.

She worked in pharmaceutical equipment sales and her coworkers saw her as having integrity. She was dedicated to her family — so much so that she moved back home to help her mother, whose health was declining.

Her sister Ashley Carr read a statement from the family at Monday’s press conference. The family said Jefferson was smart, ambitious, kind and nurturing and committed to furthering her education.

“Any parent would be proud to call her a daughter, any sibling would be proud to call her a sister, any employer would be proud to call her an employee, any neighborhood would be proud to have her as a neighbor, and any city would be proud to call her a citizen,” her family said in their statement.

At Sunday’s vigil, the family’s attorney, Lee Merritt, said Jefferson was a tomboy who was better at video games than the guys she played against. When she ate fruit, she would stick the sticker on her forehead. She liked playing video games with her nephew.

“This is how she spent her life,” he said. “She was a lover of peace. She was a lover of her family.”

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This story was originally published October 14, 2019, 6:42 PM.

Kaley Johnson is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. She majored in investigative reporting at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a passion for bringing readers in-depth, complex stories that will impact their lives. Send your tips via email or Twitter.
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