Athletes team up to supply funeral for woman killed at home by police

eyfoto/iStock
eyfoto/iStock

(FORT WORTH, Texas) — Sacramento Kings star Harrison Barnes and Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson joined forces this week to help supply funeral services for Atatiana Jefferson, a black woman who was fatally shot by a white police officer in her Texas home last week.

Jefferson, 28, was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew late Saturday night when she was fatally shot by a Fort Worth police officer who was conducting a wellness check.

The officer, 34-year-old Aaron Dean, did not identify himself as an officer before he fired into the woman’s bedroom window, sparking national outrage and claims of excessive policing.

Dean resigned and was charged Monday with murder. He has since been released on $200,000 bond.

Barnes said he hadn’t spoken with Jefferson’s family since the “tragic situation,” but he felt like he had to do something to help.

“My wife and I wanted to do something for that family,” Barnes told reporters Thursday. “No one should be killed during a wellness check. But the biggest thing is anytime someone has to go through that, the last thing you want to have to worry about is trying to come up with the money for a funeral.”

“It was unfortunate. It should never have happened. You think of wellness check not being something that’s going to be fatal. So you want justice for the family. But at the same time, your heart goes out to the family that has to deal with that,” he added.

Jefferson’s family’s attorney Lee Merritt told Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV that Barnes paid half the service costs and Jackson paid the remainder.

Bishop T.D. Jakes is scheduled to deliver the eulogy and the Rev. Al Sharpton is expected to offer special remarks at the funeral service, which will be open to the public.

Jefferson’s viewing with be held on Friday at 7 p.m. and the funeral is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Both services will be held at The Potter’s House in Dallas.

Police said Jefferson, who had a license to carry, reached for her gun when she heard noises in her backyard and went to the window to investigate. Body camera footage released by the police department shows Dean approaching a rear window of the home with his gun drawn. The officer sees the woman through the window, shouts, “Put your hands up, show me your hands,” and fires one shot.

“I realize that no action we take can replace the loss suffered here. I’m deeply sorry for what occurred,” Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus said during a news conference earlier this week.

“Human life is a precious thing, and should not have been taken from Ms. Jefferson,” Kraus said. “This incident has eroded the trust that we have built with our community and we must now work even harder to ensure that trust is restored.”

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