Harrison Barnes is stepping up for a local family in its time of need.
The Sacramento Kings forward and his wife, Brittany, have offered to pay for the funeral of Atatiana Jefferson, the Fort Worth woman who was fatally shot by a former police officer early Saturday. The officer, Aaron Dean, has been charged with murder. Jefferson was 28.
Barnes has ties to the community, as he played two seasons for the Dallas Mavericks. Speaking to reporters Thursday, Barnes explained the couple’s decision.
“It’s about the family,” Barnes told reporters. “It’s about everything they’re going through. Our prayers obviously are with them. It was a gesture my wife and I wanted to do for them.
“Anytime you come into a community, you always have a piece of that community with you and you want to give back.”
Jefferson was playing video games with her nephew when Dean fatally shot her during what was called a “wellness check.” Dean, who is white, resigned Monday before being charged.
“My wife and I wanted to do something for that family,” Barnes told reporters. “It was a tragic situation that happened. No one should be killed during a wellness check. But the biggest thing is anytime someone has to go through that, the last thing you want to have to worry about is trying to come up with the money for a funeral.”
The Barnes’ are covering the cost of more than half of the services, and Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson has agreed to pick up the rest of the bills, Lee Merritt, a lawyer for Jefferson’s family, told the Dallas Morning News.
Barnes said he has not spoken with Jefferson’s family.
“We’re just giving them space respectfully,” he said.
Barnes also lamented the string of gun violence in the Dallas area and highlighted the death of former NBA player Andre Emmett, who was killed last month.
“A guy that I played pickup basketball with for 2 1/2 straight summers, another unfortunate incident,” Barnes said. When you see these types of situations continue to occur, you know that change has to happen.”