The gates to The Potter’s House were closed Saturday after a family dispute and last-minute legal challenge postponed the Dallas funeral of Atatiana Jefferson.
Atatiana Jefferson was shot and killed in her mother’s home by a Fort Worth police officer.(Uncredited)
Jefferson, 28, was killed last week by a white Fort Worth police officer who now faces a murder charge. Her funeral was scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Dallas megachurch, but the service was postponed after her father was granted a temporary restraining order to stop her funeral and burial.
The order, signed by Dallas County probate court Judge Brenda Hull Thompson, grants Marquis Jefferson “full authority to make arrangements for the funeral and burial.” The order also sets a hearing Monday morning to determine whether the restraining order should be continued.
Attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing Jefferson’s relatives, tweeted Friday night that the funeral would proceed as planned. But early Saturday morning, he announced the service was postponed.
“This family, like most families, is dealing with internal disputes,” Merritt wrote Saturday morning on Facebook. “Unfortunately, due to the public outcry concerning Atatiana’s murder, they are being forced to go through this tragedy publicly. Please respect their privacy as the family resolves this conflict.”
Bishop T.D. Jakes was scheduled to deliver the eulogy, along with special remarks from the Rev. Al Sharpton.
At a National Action Network rally in New York, Sharpton said he and his staff were on their way to the airport to fly to Dallas early Saturday, and turned around when they heard the funeral had been postponed.
“One of the things I’ve learned down through the years is: Don’t let folk distract you from the point,” Sharpton said. “The point is the unjust, unjustifiable murder of the young lady. Family feuds are common, but do them in private. Don’t be taking sides in somebody else’s family mess because you got family mess of your own.”
Of the issues surrounding the funeral, Sharpton said: “I ain’t getting into that. I’m dealing with the murder … of this young lady.”
Sharpton said he plans to stay in touch with faith leaders in North Texas regarding Jefferson and her family.
“We’ll do whatever is necessary to support the family,” he said.
On Saturday afternoon, Merritt tweeted a link to a GoFundMe fundraiser he is organizing for Jefferson’s family, adding that funds will go directly to her mother, Yolanda Carr. In the post, Merritt also said Carr has not emerged publicly over the past week because she has been hospitalized since Jefferson was killed.
The fundraiser, which had collected more than $245,000 as of Saturday afternoon, will help cover funeral expenses, counseling, travel, time off work and other expenses for the family, Merritt said.
Former Dallas Mavericks player Harrison Barnes and his wife, Brittany Barnes, are covering about 90 percent of the cost of the service, and Philadelphia Eagles player Malik Jackson is paying for the remainder.
Atatiana Jefferson had recently been home taking care of Carr, who was ill. The night of the shooting, Jefferson was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when two Fort Worth officers arrived about 2:30 a.m. at her mother’s home in the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue. A neighbor had called a police nonemergency line to ask for a welfare check, reporting that the home’s doors were open and the lights were on.
The responding officers were told about an “open structure” call at the home and did not announce their presence when they arrived.
The boy later told a forensic investigator that his aunt heard noises outside, grabbed her handgun and pointed it toward a window, according to an arrest-warrant affidavit.
Footage from Officer Aaron Dean’s body camera shows him turning toward a window, yelling at Jefferson to put up her hands and shooting her through the window in a matter of seconds.
Dean, 34, resigned from the police department Monday morning and was arrested on a murder charge that evening. He has since been released on $200,000 bail.