Atatiana Jefferson

Atatiana Jefferson
Atatiana Jefferson
Photo by Unknown / Facebook

Atatiana Koquice Jefferson was a 28-year-old woman living in Fort Worth, Texas. She was a pre-medical graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana, taking care of her mother and her eight-year old nephew. A concerned neighbor called 911 for a welfare check because Atatiana’s front door was open and lights were on during the predawn hours of the morning of October 12, 2019.

Police arrived at Atatiana’s home at approximately 2:30 a.m. to check on the occupant. An officer quietly walked around the side of the home and into her backyard. Atatiana was playing video games with her nephew when she heard noises outside the window. Police body camera footage showed that when she came to her window a responding officer fatally shot Atatiana within seconds of seeing her through the window. Police apparently did not identify themselves upon arrival.

Fifteen minutes after the police arrived, the concerned neighbor James Smith (62) said he heard a gunshot and watched several officers rush Atatiana’s home. The police report stated that they found a handgun near her body, which her nephew confirmed she had pulled from her purse when she heard unfamiliar noises outside the window. Atatiana lawfully owned the gun and had a concealed carry license. She was inside of her home, and she had done nothing wrong.

Atatiana’s neighbor expressed regret, “If I had never dialed the police, she'd still be alive,” James said. “I'm shaken, I'm mad, I'm upset, and I feel it's partly my fault.” He called the police because he wanted them to check and make sure Atatiana was safe. Instead, they killed her. This has caused more Black people to feel that police cannot be trusted as peace officers who will serve and protect their community.

The officer who killed Atatiana Jefferson was arrested on October 14, 2019 but quit the force before he was expected to be fired for violating departmental policies on use of force, de-escalation and unprofessional conduct. On December 20, 2019, the officer was indicted by a grand jury on murder charges.