Sacramento Kings

Kings’ Harrison Barnes paying for Fort Worth woman Atatiana Jefferson’s funeral

Kings forward Harrison Barnes is covering a majority of the funeral costs for Atatiana Jefferson, the 28-year-old woman who was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check last week in Fort Worth, Texas.

Barnes, who previously played for the Dallas Mavericks, discussed his decision to pay for Jefferson’s funeral following the Kings’ practice Thursday at Golden 1 Center.

“My wife and I wanted to do something for that family,” Barnes said. “It was a tragic situation that happened and no one should be killed during a wellness check, but the biggest thing is, anytime someone has to go through that, the last thing they want to have to worry about is trying to come up with the money for a funeral. It’s about the family. It’s about everything they’re going through. Our prayers are obviously with them and it was a gesture that my wife and I wanted to do for them.”

The Dallas Morning News reported Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean went to Jefferson’s home after a neighbor reported the home’s lights were on and its doors open. Dean entered the backyard and reportedly shot Jefferson when she pointed a gun at the window. Dean, 34, has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

“It was unfortunate,” Barnes said. “It should never happen. You think of a wellness check not being something that’s going to be fatal, so we want justice for the family, but at the same time your heart goes out to the family that has to now deal with that.”

Barnes and his wife, Brittany, are paying for more than half of Jefferson’s funeral costs, according to the Morning News. Philadelphia Eagles player Malik Jackson is covering the remaining costs.

“Obviously, my wife and I, we gave a lot to that community in terms of helping out, being involved and giving back,” said Barnes, who starred at North Carolina before the Golden State Warriors drafted him in 2012. “(That is) something we tried to do in Oakland as well, so I think that anytime you come to a community, whether it’s Sacramento, whether it’s Dallas, whether it’s Oakland, Chapel Hill or any place, you always have a piece of that community that’s with you. You always want to try to give back.”

Jason Anderson is an award-winning sportswriter for The Sacramento Bee. He started his journalism career at The Bee more than 20 years ago and returned to cover the Sacramento Kings in September 2018.