Early this morning, members of an unnamed group placed a large coffin on Mayor Mattie Parker’s front yard. The gray casket has been spraypainted red in parts to signify blood and is covered with the names of victims of local police violence.
One name, Jefferson, is an apparent reference Atatiana Jefferson, the young Black woman fatally shot by former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean in 2019. Jefferson was the sixth person killed by Fort Worth police that year.
Dean’s trial for murder resumes Monday after beginning last week. Critics allege prosecutors are going soft on Dean as a favor to him and law enforcement in general (“Pulling Punches,” Dec 8).
“Black people are the targets of 55% of police shootings when we only account for 18% of the population of Fort Worth,” reads a public statement from the coffin group.
The 18% tracks with data from the U.S. Census Bureau, although the 55% could not be independently verified. Nationally, Blacks represent 13% of the country’s population but nearly 30% of fatal police shootings, based on data from Mapping Police Violence, a nonprofit that tracks police shootings. The nonprofit further finds that law enforcement across the country has fatally shot 491 people this year alone and that Black people are three times more likely to be fatally shot by police than whites.
The Fort Worth police department, its union, and the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office “are too intertwined for our judicial system to be fair for all members of our community,” another part of the unnamed group’s public message reads, referring to alleged self-serving coordination among those groups.
The mayor has not responded to our requests for comment.
The public statement goes on to demand police undergo de-escalation and equity training. Much of the letter refers to the recent vote by four city councilmembers and Parker to reject a civilian advisory board. The group said public leaders like Parker who accept political donations from police unions should have recused themselves from the vote.
A future oversight board should not be appointed by city officials to ensure the board is free of political connections, reads another group demand.
“If we can’t get progress, you’ll see more caskets dropped because we will not stop applying pressure until we get results,” the message concludes.
It will be the same pressure, the group said, that Dean failed to apply to the gunshot wound to Jefferson’s heart, a reference to recent court disclosures that Dean did not attempt to aid or resuscitate Jefferson upon entering her home.