Atatiana Jefferson Funeral Set for Thursday After Judge Ends Family Dispute

Pilar Melendez, Julia Arciga
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Handout

The inter-family standoff over the funeral for Atatiana Jefferson—a black Texas woman fatally shot inside her own home by a white police officer—came to an end Monday after a judge announced the funeral will take place on Thursday and placed a gag order on members of the family from discussing how the dispute was resolved.

The 28-year-old was killed on Oct. 12 by former Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean, 35, who shot her through a window after failing to announce himself while performing a welfare check at her home.

Her Saturday funeral, which was to feature prominent civil-rights activists at a local megachurch, was cancelled hours before it was set to begin by Dallas County Judge Brenda Hull Thompson amid the family’s legal battle over the arrangements.

Marquis Jefferson, the 28-year-old’s father, was granted a temporary restraining order Friday to stop the burial, after arguing that he would suffer “immediate and irreparable injury” if his daughter’s aunt, Venitta Boda, continued with the service planning without his participation and input. 

“He’s the father of the deceased,” Walter L. Irvin, his lawyer, said on Friday. “They would not let Mr. Jefferson participate in burial arrangements. That’s why we had to seek an injunction.”

Atatiana Jefferson’s Funeral Canceled Amid Family Feud

Thompson ruled that the father has the authority to make arrangements for his daughter’s funeral, according to court records. On Monday, Dallas County probate court judge Brenda Hull Thompson heard from both sides of the Jefferson family in a closed-door meeting to determine whether the restraining order should continue.

At the end she announced the funeral is scheduled to take place on Thursday at 11 a.m. in Dallas’ Concord Church, according to the Dallas Morning News. Hull said she issued a gag order to prevent members of the family, and their lawyers, from talking about what happened in the meeting.

Boda has previously claimed Jefferson is not Atatiana’s legal or biological father, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The dispute comes amid rising community tension against the Fort Worth Police Department and the District Attorney’s office in a case that has prompted mass protests against racial bias and police use of excessive force.

Authorities said Dean, who has resigned from the force and been charged with murder, responded to an Oct. 12 welfare check call at Jefferson’s home after one of her neighbors noticed her front door was slightly ajar. 

Her 8-year-old nephew told police that while the two were playing video games in the bedroom, Jefferson heard someone outside and got a gun out of her purse. She pointed it at the window, according to court documents, out of fear of an intruder. 

Texas Police Officer Fatally Shoots Black Woman Inside Her Own Home During Welfare Check

Body-cam footage shows Dean and another officer walking alongside Jefferson’s home with flashlights before entering her backyard gate—all without identifying themselves. 

After seeing “a person standing inside the residence near a window,” police previously said, Dean shouted at Jefferson to put her hands up before opening fire within seconds. It is not clear if Dean saw the weapon. 

“I get it. We are trying to do better... anyone who had looked at that video saw it was wrong,” Police Chief Ed Kraus told reporters the day Dean was charged.

The shooting occurred less than two weeks after former police officer Amber Guyger in nearby Dallas was convicted of fatally shooting her unarmed black neighbor, Botham Jean, inside his apartment in 2018.  

Hundreds have since gathered to protest the incident—including a small group that came together on Saturday to commemorate Jefferson and the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to Fort Worth. Rev. Al Sharpton told those protestors via audio message “the battle is in; the fighters are coming. We want the nation to know what’s going on in Fort Worth.”

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