Officials from the city of Fort Worth in Texas announced that they will pay Zion Carr $3.5 million for witnessing his aunt Atatiana Jefferson being fatally shot by police officers.
Zion, who was then 8 years old, was playing video games at Jefferson’s house with her when Aaron Dean, a former Fort Worth officer shot and killed the 28 year-old man while responding to an emergency call for a welfare check.
According to a lawsuit filed by his mother Amber Carr in 2021, Zion suffered “anxiety and terror” after witnessing the death of his aunt. claimed that Zion suffered “severe mental and emotional distress,” and blamed his trauma . Amber Carr, Jefferson’s older sister, passed away two years after the lawsuit. She had been battling congestive cardiac failure for a long time.
The city announced this month that had proposed a settlement of $3.5 million. The Fort Worth City Council unanimously approved the payment on Tuesday.
“I am thrilled about this opportunity for him to go to college and to do the things his mother and aunt wanted him do when they raised him,” said Councilman Chris Nettles, who thanked Mayor Mattie Park and the council’s work in getting the settlement approved.
In a statement dated Nov. 2, Parker stated that the payment “was the right thing to be done.”
She said, “I hope that this will bring some healing and reconciliation to the loved ones of Atatiana Jefferson.”
On Thursday, it was not possible to reach the attorney representing Zion for a comment.
Jefferson was babysitting Zion and playing videogames with her at home around 2:30 am on October 12, 2019 when she heard an outside noise. The family claims Dean didn’t announce himself as an officer of the law and went around a gate into the backyard. According to the lawsuit, Jefferson grabbed a legally owned firearm for protection and went to a window in order to investigate.
Police released body camera footage showing Dean and his partner yelling at Jefferson to raise her hands before she was killed.
Two officers responded to a neighbor’s request for a welfare check at the house because the front door was left open. According to the lawsuit, the family claimed that the front door had been left open to let a cool breeze in.
Laetitia Brown, deputy city attorney, said that the settlement would be divided into lump sums for living expenses, college savings plans, and payments to Zion until age 40. She said that he will receive the majority of the settlement “later in his life” at the request of Zion’s family.
She said, “The city and his family were on board together in providing an amount to take care of him for 18 years, making sure he could go to school, making sure he would be incentivized, making sure he’d been taken care of over a longer time period,”