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Atatiana Jefferson: I will never call the police

Atatiana Jefferson:  I will never call the police

Atatiana Jefferson was killed in her home when police were called about an open door

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James Smith is furious and upset about the killing of black people which brings him hurtful flashbacks when Atatiana Jefferson was killed.

James Smith has never wanted much to do with the police but he called them to check on his neighbor in the Texas city of Fort Worth because it was late at night and her front door was wide open. Soon afterward he heard a gunshot, and later saw the dead body of a 28-year-old woman, his neighbor's daughter, carried out on a stretcher.

"I have to live with this guilt, with this cloud hanging over me for the rest of my years," he says. Because he was the reason that the police were there that night.

At around 02:30 on 12 October, he was woken by his niece and nephew, who told him the front door of their neighbor's house was wide open and the lights were on.

The owner of the house, Yolanda Carr, had a heart condition and had recently been in and out of intensive care, so Smith was worried something had happened to her. He went across the road and noticed the lawnmower and other gardening equipment were still plugged in, which he thought was strange.

So he dialed a number in the phone book to request a "wellness check" - expecting that a police officer would come out, knock on the door and check the family was OK. He didn't know that Carr was in the hospital that night and that her daughter and grandson were up late playing video games.

He was standing directly opposite the house when the police arrived. One of the officers, Aaron Dean, had his gun drawn as he approached the front door and then walked around the side of the house to the back garden. Seconds later there was a gunshot.
"When that bullet went off I heard her spirit say, 'Don't let them get away with it,'" Smith says.

"And that's pretty much why I stayed out there all night long until they brought her out." Police soon filled the street, but they wouldn't tell him what had happened. It wasn't until they wheeled a body out six hours later that he knew Yolanda Carr's daughter, Atatiana Jefferson, had been killed.

The two families were still getting to know each other. Yolanda Carr had bought the house four years earlier and was fiercely proud of it.
Her house is separated from James Smith's by a road and their wide, green, manicured lawns.

 Smith is reminded of Atatiana whenever he looks across the road
Smith is a veteran of the neighborhood. He's raised children and grandchildren there, and five members of his family still live on the same street.

Keeping the yard straight is like a ritual in the area, he says, one that Atatiana's family had been quick to adopt. He describes Yolanda Carr as a hard-working lady. "She had some problems in life that she overcame and her home was her trophy."

Atatiana had been staying in the house while her mother was unwell. She was saving for medical school while caring for her mother and her eight-year-old nephew. A few days before the killing there had been a car crash on the street, James Smith remembers. Atatiana rushed out to help, and she stayed with the people in the car until the ambulance came.

 That was just her nature, he says. "She intended to become a doctor," he says, before going silent for a moment. "But that's not going to happen now." Sometimes he would mow their lawn for them, Atatiana would bring him water and they'd chat. The day that she died she had been mowing the lawn herself, showing her nephew how to do it.

 

source: BBC

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