By Idorenyin Aquaisua, Uyo
A Nigerian, Jerome Ekpo Eschor, the biological father of Atatiana Jefferson Carr, the 28-year-old Black woman killed by a Fort Worth, Texas, Police Officer, Aaron Dean, in her home has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the former officer charged in her death. Other plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit filed in the Northern District of are Atatiana’s maternal Aunt Venitta Body and Paternal Aunt, Arita Eschor.
Dean, a 35-year-old white man, shot and killed Jefferson last year when conducting a simple welfare check at her house, after a concerned neighbor noticed a door had been left ajar and called a non-emergency police line. Jefferson, according to court documents, was up late that night babysitting and playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew, Zion.
The lead attorney in the suit, Tanika J. Solomon in a phone interview with NBC news said the suit is not just about money but about vindication “Her father, Jerome, decided to bring the claim in order to help the family finally get some justice and to bring closure,”.
In a chat with our correspondent Eschor stated. “My daughter was babysitting her nephew, Zion, my 8-year old grandson at the time. They were still up playing video games when racist Officer Dean arrived with his partner. Atatiana and Zion noticed flashlights on their window and my daughter cautiously peeped and Officer Dean fired a shot at her and hit her in the chest. She dropped dead right there in front of my traumatized grandson. CNN, BBC, AL Jazeera, NBC as well as news stations in Texas and the Dallas/Fort Worth area were awash with news of the tragic incident in October, 2019.
“I mourned my daughter for one over one year before filing for justice for her wrongful death.
Now that it has made global news again, and my name mentioned in USA Today, I feel duty-bound, as advised by my legal team in America, to inform representatives of my constituency at the local, state and federal level of this development. Racial inequality and violence in the USA has been heightened during the present administration, and the Black Lives Matter movement is all out to put a stop to it wherever it might exist.
“Atatiana was a graduate of Xavier University of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. She earned a Bachelors degree in Premed Biology. She planned be a Doctor and to impact lives positively in her community and beyond.” Eschor disclosed that his legal team consists of four Texas based attorneys, one of which has Nigerian parents from Etinan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
Atatiana’s death, which echoes that of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old black woman who in March was fatally shot by Louisville, Kentucky, police in her apartment, sparked widespread public outcry, prompting calls for police accountability and racial justice in the policing system.
In December 2019, a Texas grand jury indicted Dean, who prior to his arrest resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department. He has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge. Jim Lane, an attorney for Dean, told NBC 5 Dallas Forth Worth in October 2019 that Jefferson’s shooting was a “tragedy” and that Dean says he’s “sorry” and his family “is in shock.”
Eschor’s civil suit, which seeks an unspecified amount of money for damages and attorney fees, alleged that Dean’s conduct “demonstrated a deliberate indifference to and conscious disregard for the constitutional rights and safety” of Jefferson.
Fort Worth police arrived at Jefferson’s home around 2 a.m. ET on Oct. 12, 2019. Dean and another Fort Worth police officer responded to the welfare check call. Instead of announcing their presence or knocking, the suit claims, the pair bypassed a gate to the property’s backyard. Body camera footage released by police show the pair then peering through a window with a flashlight, yelling at a person: “Put your hands up — show me your hands,” and then finally shooting.
Body camera footage did not show the officers identifying themselves as police, and it confirmed the order of these events.
The Fort Worth Police Department said in a press release at the time that Dean felt threatened prior to discharging his weapon.
“A young woman has lost her life, leaving her family in unbelievable grief. All of Fort Worth must surround Atatiana Jefferson’s family with prayers, love and support,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said in a statement at the time, adding that the police department’s police chief would be “acting with immediacy and transparency to conduct a complete and thorough investigation.”