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Community center renaming would serve as ‘tangible legacy’ for Atatiana Jefferson

By ANNIE GIMBEL

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    FORT WORTH (KTVT) — The Fort Worth City Council will vote next Tuesday on renaming the Hillside Community Center in honor of Atatiana Carr Jefferson “as a tangible legacy and reminder to the life she lived.”

Councilmembers Chris Nettles and Elizabeth Beck are proposing the name change.

The center at 1201 E. Maddox Ave is a block away from the home where Jefferson was watching her 8-year-old nephew when former Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean shot and killed her.

The fatal shooting on Oct. 12, 2019 came less than two weeks after former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the killing of her neighbor Botham Jean inside his own apartment.

Dean was sentenced to 12-years for manslaughter in 2022.

Jefferson family attorney Lee Merritt said he’s working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring federal civil rights charges against not only Dean, but the Fort Worth Police Department as well.

“Best case scenario, the Department of Justice comes in to review the Fort Worth Police Department, that we believe is a troubled department historically, and decides to do a pattern and practice investigation into the region and its policies concerning the use of force,” said Merritt.

Jefferson’s sisters have met with former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden to advocate for federal intervention, according to Merritt.

The Department of Justice typically waits to get involved until the state’s case is complete. Those proceedings could move forward while Dean goes through an appeal.

He filed a notice of appeal almost immediately after the jury handed down his 11 year, 10 month, and 12 day sentence.

“What that means is he wants to make sure he has the right to appeal,” said Lisa Herrick, a Fort Worth attorney.

If Dean’s attorneys do pursue an appeal, he’ll have to stay behind bars while that process plays out.

The City of Fort Worth also proclaimed Oct. 12, 2021, as Tay Day to honor the life and legacy of Jefferson on the second anniversary of her death.

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