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Twelve-year-old boy awarded $3.5 million after seeing his aunt shot and killed by an officer

Twelve-year-old-boy
(Image: AP)

In a tragic incident that occurred four years ago in Fort Worth, Texas, Zion Carr, then an eight-year-old boy, witnessed the fatal shooting of his aunt, Atatiana Jefferson, by a police officer. The City of Fort Worth has recently awarded Zion millions in damages for the trauma he endured.

On October 12, 2019, Officer Aaron Dean, who is white, shot and killed Jefferson, a 28-year-old black woman, after responding to a non-emergency call from a neighbor who noticed Jefferson’s front door was open. It was later revealed in the trial that Zion and Jefferson had left the door open to air out smoke after accidentally burning burgers, and were playing video games at the time of the incident.

The Fort Worth City Council agreed to a settlement of approximately $3.5 million for Zion. This settlement, approved following the trial of Officer Dean last December, will support Zion’s immediate needs and future expenses, including his college education. Officer Dean was convicted of manslaughter for Jefferson’s death and sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison, reported Abc7chicago.

During the trial, it was disclosed that Dean and his partner, Officer Carol Darch, were suspected of burglary and entered Jefferson’s backyard without announcing themselves as police. Dean fired his gun through a window almost immediately after yelling at Jefferson to show her hands, without giving her time to respond. This was corroborated by body camera footage.

Dean testified in his defense, claiming he saw Jefferson pointing a gun at him and had no choice but to shoot. However, he admitted under cross-examination to various mistakes in his conduct, which the prosecutor, Dale Smith, described as “bad police work.” Dean acknowledged he only mentioned seeing the gun after finding it inside the house and failed to administer first aid to Jefferson.

Zion testified that his aunt had taken her gun thinking there was an intruder in the backyard. The defense argued Dean acted in self-defense, framing the case as manslaughter, not murder. After over 13 hours of deliberation, the jury found Dean guilty of manslaughter.

The settlement for Zion comes after the loss of his mother, Amber Carr, who passed away in January 2023 due to congestive heart failure.

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