FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – As protesters took to the streets of Fort Worth Wednesday night calling for justice for Breonna Taylor, there was another name in many of their chants – Atatiana Jefferson.
Jefferson was shot and killed by a Fort Worth police officer in October 2019, while she was inside her own home.
When Bruce Carter heard about what happened to Taylor, he immediately thought of Jefferson.
“Because of the profession she was in,” he said. “The age range. In her home. It starts to make you wonder for your very own children what can happen. If you’re not safe in your home, where else can you be safe?”
Carter was a friend of Jefferson’s father, who passed away just a few weeks after his daughter was killed.
The 28-year-old was home with her nephew when a Fort Worth police officer shot her through a window.
“You’re at Atatiana’s house for a welfare check,” said Carter. “There’s no warrant. There’s no alleged illegal activities.”
The officer, Aaron Dean, resigned from his job.
Lee Merritt, the attorney for Jefferson’s family, says the lack of charges in Taylor’s case could spell trouble for hers.
In the police report, the Fort Worth Police Department says Jefferson heard noises in the backyard and got her gun out of her purse to protect herself.
“And I suspect that will come up as a defense for Officer Dean,” Merritt said. “You have to change the laws, because the law as it exists will justify the behavior in those scenarios. The other thing is you have to change hearts and minds.”
Michael Snipes, a former Dallas County judge, says people’s respect for law enforcement often makes these cases difficult to prosecute.
“We want to trust them, and jurors do too,” he said. “So they want to give the benefit of the doubt to law enforcement officers because they’re the ones to protect us.”
Carter believes jurors need to think about the other perspective.
“Whether it’s Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Botham Jean and countless names – there has to be a value placed on every single life that’s out there now,” said Carter.
Dean bonded out of jail hours after he was arrested last October.
A date for his trial still hasn’t been set.