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Atatiana Jefferson’s sister, Amber Carr, dies at 33, lawyer says

Dallas Morning News logo Dallas Morning News 1/30/2023 Krista M. Torralva, The Dallas Morning News

The sister of a woman slain by a Fort Worth police officer died Monday after battling longtime health issues.

Amber Carr, 33, was surrounded by family and loved ones when she died, lawyer Lee Merritt said.

Carr attended part of the murder trial for Aaron Dean but was hospitalized last month before a Tarrant County jury convicted him of the lesser charge of manslaughter for killing Atatiana Jefferson.

Carr suffered from congestive heart failure, Merritt previously said, and was moved to a hospice facility earlier this month. She is the mother of Zion Carr, Jefferson’s nephew who witnessed the Oct. 12, 2019, fatal shooting of his aunt.

“We are asking for your continued prayers and support as her two young sons deal with her transition,” Merritt wrote on Twitter.

Carr served on the board of directors of the Atatiana Project, a nonprofit organization that provides science, technology, engineering, art and math education to kids living in underserved communities. The organization was created in honor of Jefferson, who was saving money for medical school when Dean killed her.

Carr was also involved in the We Are Her nonprofit, which connects mentors with girls and young women, and the Sisters of the Movement nonprofit that pushes for police reform.

“It is with deep sadness that we share the passing of our beloved Amber Carr,” her family wrote in a statement posted by her sister Ashley Carr on Facebook. “At this time, we respectfully request your prayers and privacy. We will provide details regarding services as soon as they become available.”

Carr struggled with coughing fits during the first week of Dean’s trial in December before she was hospitalized. She was in the hospital when the jury convicted Dean of manslaughter for killing Jefferson in her mother’s East Fort Worth home.

Carr battled health problems for years, her family has said, and she survived two major heart operations since 2016, according to her biography on the Atatiana Project website. Carr was in the hospital the night Jefferson was killed. Jefferson, 28, had been caring for Zion, then 8, while Carr was hospitalized.

Jefferson’s and Carr’s mother, Yolanda Carr, was also in poor health and hospitalized at the time Jefferson was shot. Yolanda Carr died within three months of Jefferson’s killing.

Dean, 38, and another officer, Carol Darch, were dispatched to the house after a neighbor called a nonemergency line to report the front doors were open and the lights were on for several hours. Dean led Darch around the house to the fenced backyard with his flashlight on. The officers did not announce their presence. Dean testified he thought the house had been burglarized and he didn’t want to give away his position in case an intruder was still inside.

Zion told jurors that Jefferson heard a noise outside, got a handgun from her purse and approached the window. He said they had been playing video games and that the front doors were open because they had burned hamburgers at dinnertime.

Dean, who resigned after Jefferson’s death, testified that he saw the barrel of Jefferson’s gun pointed at him before shooting less than a second after shouting at Jefferson to show her hands. But prosecutors argued that Dean didn’t see Jefferson’s gun and violated department protocol.

Zion was 11 when he testified. Jurors sentenced Dean to 11 years, 10 months and 12 days in prison. Although the jury did not explain the sentence, Jefferson’s family found symbolism in it: They said the 11 years stood for Zion’s age when he testified. The months and days in their sentence seem to reflect the date Dean killed Jefferson.

Dean is appealing his conviction.

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