Fort Worth Blesses Zion, Nephew of Police Victim Gets $3.5M on Aunt's Would-Be 33rd Birthday

Fort Worth Blesses Zion, Nephew of Police Victim Gets $3.5M on Aunt's Would-Be 33rd BirthdaySource: Google Street View
Margie Townsend
Published on November 29, 2023

In a unanimous decision that resonates with the echoes of a tragedy from four years past, Fort Worth city leaders have approved a staggering $3.5 million settlement for Zion Carr, the young nephew of police shooting victim Atatiana Jefferson. The seal of approval arrived on what would have been Jefferson's 33rd birthday, casting a somber hue over proceedings that sought to ameliorate past wrongs with financial recourse, per WFAA.

The hefty settlement, poised to reach the hands of 11-year-old Zion Carr, came after his aunt, Atatiana Jefferson, was shot and killed by former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean in 2019. The death occurred when she was babysitting Zion while they played video games, moments interrupted by tragedy after a well-intentioned welfare check spiraled into fatal violence. Dean has been convicted of manslaughter and is now serving a prison sentence of nearly 12 years, with an ongoing appeal process, according to KERA News.

The settlement includes lawyer fees, a trust for the boy’s living expenses till age 18, a college savings plan, and payments until he turns 40, potentially accumulating to about $6 million with interests, as detailed by deputy city attorney Laetitia Coleman Brown. Such measures, however, cannot replace losses that include not only his aunt's but also his mother, Amber Carr, and grandmother, Yolanda Carr, to health complications, further underscoring a narrative of compounded sorrow, according to NBC DFW.

In an affirming gesture, Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker was quoted saying, "It does feel short, right? It’s not enough, but it is the right gesture on behalf of the city of Fort Worth." Her sentiments were echoed through the halls of governance, acknowledging that no monetary sum could suffice for the life irrevocably altered by an act of misguided law enforcement. And yet the city's decision, simultaneously practical and symbolic, endeavors to cushion the young boy's future from the financial harshness that often follows the bereaved, as per KERA News.

As legal processes ensue, advocacy and support for the Jefferson family persist. James Smith, the neighbor whose call to the police sparked the fateful welfare check, has remained a consistent voice at City Council, his statements bearing the weight of unwavering commitment to the memory of those lost. "I’ve put my feelings on a shelf, and they will stay on a shelf until accountability can proceed. Then I’ll have my feelings," Smith professed, per KERA News.