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Viewing Police Brutality Through an Intersectional lens

Atatiana Jefferson and her nephew, Zion, were enjoying the fresh air and playing “Call of Duty” at the time of her death. Photos from The African American Policy Forum.

Atatiana Jefferson had an “indescribable” relationship with her nephews, according to Amber Carr, Jefferson’s sister, in an CNN interview.


Jefferson, lovingly known as “Aunt Tay,” helped care for Carr’s 8-year-old son, Zion, while she was recovering from heart surgery. Based on their close relationship, some people thought Carr’s son was Jefferson’s.

Adarius Carr, Jefferson’s brother, described her as “a woman committed to helping others” and was even taking care of their ill mother.

On the night of her murder, Jefferson was playing “Call of Duty” with her nephew. She was shot by Aaron Dean, a former Forth Worth White male police officer. Dean and another officer responded after a neighbor made a 911 “non-emergency” call stating the lights were on and the doors were open at Jefferson’s mother’s home, The Dallas Morning News reported. However, CNN reported Jefferson and her nephew wanted to “enjoy the crisp autumn air” while having family bonding time.

Jefferson heard noises around 2:30 a.m. outside, possibly presuming it was a prowler. A police warrant for Dean’s arrest stated the nephew saw Jefferson pointed her handgun at the window reported by The Dallas Morning News and USA Today. This caused some criticism since it supported Dean shooting Jefferson. However, Dean’s partner could only see her face but not the gun.


Body camera video showed Dean’s view was obstructed by a flashlight, “The video ends with an officer shouting, ‘Put your hands up, show me your hands” before the sound of one gunshot.’”

Unfortunately, Zion witnessed his beloved aunt, being murdered. Jefferson, 28, was pronounced dead at 3:05 a.m.

USA Today reported Dean was charged with murder and arrested Oct. 14, then later freed on $200,000 bond. Fort Worth Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus condemned Dean’s actions and said the officer dismantled the trust the department has built with the Fort Worth community.

CNN stated Jefferson was 30 miles from where Botham Jean was murdered in his Dallas apartment while eating ice cream by Amber Guyger’s, an ex-cop and convicted murder, in September 2018.

The post volume came from 97.9 percent of Twitter posts. Photos from Adam Brown Social Media Command Center Social Media Studio.

The total post volume was 269,000 with 63% percent located in the U.S. However, the two most used hashtags were #atatianajefferson and #sayhername.According to The African American Policy Forum, the latter hashtag is a campaign to help “better understand and address Black women’s experience of profiling and policing.” Unfortunately, there is a lack of inclusion focusing on Black women’s experiences with police brutality.

Atatiana Jefferson’s death sheds light on how discussions on police brutality lack a focus on the intersections of race and gender. Photos from Adam Brown Social Media Command Center Social Media Studio.

According to a 2019 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, people from racially marginalized groups are more likely to be killed than White men and women. The report also stated:

Police violence is a leading cause of death for young men in the United States. Over the life course, about 1 in every 1,000 black men can expect to be killed by police. Risk of being killed by police peaks between the ages of 20 y and 35 y for men and women and for all racial and ethnic groups. Black women and men and American Indian and Alaska Native women and men are significantly more likely than white women and men to be killed by police. Latino men are also more likely to be killed by police than are white men.


The study’s authors, Frank Edwards, Hedwig Lee, and Michael Esposito, argued police violence should be considered a public health issue. In a Vox article, Edwards stated there is a connection to unarm African American police killings and increased symptoms of depression. Additionally, heavily police neighborhoods and polices such as stop-and-frisk, increase symptoms of PTSD and anxiety.

The issue of how police brutality affects racially marginalized groups needs to be discussed continuously until laws and policies are enacted to protect them from harm. However, we need to include and understand the intersectional lens while discussing police brutality against these groups.