Police Violence Has Generational Consequences
Marquis A. Jefferson, whose only child, Atatiana Jefferson, was shot in her home by police less than a month ago, died on Saturday. He was 59 years-old. Atatiana was shot through a window of her house on October 12 by a police officer who was supposed to be conducting a wellness check.
“He ultimately just succumbed to, I don’t know, I can only say a broken heart,” family spokesman Bruce Carter said. “He just never recovered from the grieving process.”
Marquis Jefferson is yet another example of how police killings can have fatal consequences not just for the victim but also for their families. Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner who was suffocated by New York City police, became a well-known activist against police violence but died only a few years after her father. She, too, suffered a heart attack. She was only 27.
And Venida Browder, the mother of Kalief Browder, died of a heart attack 16 months after her son died by suicide shortly after his release from Rikers Prison where he endured more than two years of solitary confinement because his family could not afford his $3,000 bail. Although Kalief was released and his charges dropped, the trauma of his time at Rikers was too much to bear, and he killed himself. Like Erica Garner, Venida Browder dedicated her life to activism in the wake of her son’s death. “The stress of fighting for justice and the pain over her son’s death literally broke my mother’s heart, resulting in her premature death at age 63 from complications of a heart attack. It was only a year after Kalief’s passing,” her son Deion Browder wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.
Presidential candidate Julián Castro, who has made addressing police violence a tenet of his campaign and has made a point to say the names of victims on the debate stage, sent a tweet acknowledging Marquis Jefferson’s death, saying, “His death is a reminder that the victims of police violence also include the families of those killed.”
Atatiana Jefferson had been playing video games with her nephew in her Fort Worth, Texas, home when a neighbor noticed her front door was open. Concerned, he called a non-emergency police number requesting a wellness check. Two officers arrived at her home and entered her back yard. Hearing the noise, Atatiana went to investigate. When one of the officers, Aaron Dean, saw her through a window, he did not identify himself as police and yelled, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” before pulling the trigger mere seconds later, according to his body cam footage. After the shooting, Dean resigned from the force. He has been charged with murder. But Dean’s violence had intergenerational consequences.
“It’s just sad because of grief. I don’t know what else to say,” Carter told NBC 5 in Dallas-Fort Worth. “Less than a month ago, he was working at El Centro, mentoring kids twice a week. He just couldn’t get back from what happened with his daughter.”
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