Atatiana Jefferson
(Courtesy Image)

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Police Shooting of Atatiana Jefferson; Drug Industry Announces Diversity Guidelines in Development of New Medications; and More

Wrongful death lawsuit filed in the fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson by police.

Family members of Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black woman who was fatally shot by police through a window in her own home, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Fort Worth, Texas and the former officer charged in her death, The Associated Press has reported.

The tragic shooting occurred after a concerned neighbor noticed an open door at the home where Jefferson was up late babysitting her 8-year-old nephew and playing video games. The neighbor placed a non-emergency call to the police who responded by sending out officers for a simple safety check at the home. Officer Aaron Dean and his partner arrived at the property around 2 a.m. on Oct 12, 2019. But instead of knocking on the door, the suit alleges the officers climbed over a gate and began looking into windows in the home with a flashlight. When Dean saw Johnson, he ordered her to put her hands up. The situation quickly escalated and Dean ultimately fired his weapon, killing the Xavier University graduate who was in the process of attending medical school. Body camera footage released by police is said to verify the claim.  

In December 2019, a Texas grand jury indicted Dean. He has pled not guilty to a murder charge in a criminal case that is still pending. He is currently free on $200,000 bond and is scheduled to stand trial in August 2021. The new civil suit states that Dean’s actions “demonstrated a deliberate indifference to and conscious disregard for the constitutional rights and safety” of Jefferson.

“A young woman has lost her life, leaving her family in unbelievable grief,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price in a statement at the time. “All of Fort Worth must surround Atatiana Jefferson’s family with prayers, love and support.” She added that the city’s police department would be “acting with immediacy and transparency to conduct a complete and thorough investigation.”

Monday’s civil suit, which seeks an unspecified amount of money for damages and attorney fees, alleged that Jefferson was at home “not violating any laws of the state and her shooting was without provocation or excuse.” CNN reported that the complaint also accuses the city of systematically failing to provide adequate training and supervision to its officers, not upholding Jefferson’s constitutional rights and not providing urgently needed medical care. “Defendants acted with high disregard for the rights of others, and their conduct was extreme and unreasonable under the circumstances,” the suit concludes.

 

Drug industry works to correct anti-inclusive past.

Following the blockbuster pharmaceutical news from Pfizer and Moderna earlier this month about possible vaccines for COVID-19, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) is making its own important breakthrough. U.S. News and World Report writes that the trade group (which represents companies within the pharmaceutical industry in the U.S.) has announced their “first-ever, industrywide” guidelines designed to help narrow health disparities between whites and other groups, as well as improving the spread of information on new breakthroughs and procedures and improving access to clinical trial research for all populations. 

According to Stephen J. Ubl, PhRMA’s president and CEO, the new diversity initiative marks an important step toward greater health equity for people of all races. “We are addressing issues of mistrust and working to reduce systemic issues that deter communities of color from participating in clinical trials, so that those patients who want to participate, can,” he said. 

In addition to a greater risk for conditions ranging from diabetes to heart disease to depression, Blacks, Latinx, Asian and LGBTQ individuals often face additional biases within health care, have a greater distrust of healthcare providers and are more likely to end up being excluded from clinical trials and testing of new procedures and medications that they could significantly benefit from. Ubl hopes the new policies can correct some of those issues, ultimately “enhancing the diversity of clinical trial populations and promoting enrollment practices that lead to clinical trials better reflecting all populations who are likely to use the medical product once it is approved,” he said. 

The voluntary industry guidelines take effect in April 2021 and were developed through conversations with Black physicians and care providers, drug company representatives, as well as leaders within a number of minority-based communities.

 

New study warns working from home could lead to an increase in prejudice.

When employees stop visiting a job site and spend all their time in “isolated silos” working from home, prejudices are bound to increase. That’s the warning from The Woolf Institute, an academic group based in Cambridge, England. In a new study published by the group, researchers surveyed 11,701 men and women on their friendships in and out of the office, as well as their beliefs on diversity and inclusion as a whole. The results suggest that working from home may ultimately limit people’s opportunities to mix with individuals of different backgrounds, unintentionally leading to an increase in prejudice. 

While workplaces can be very ethnically, nationally and religiously diverse, the study explained that approximately a third of the population typically only has friends that are within their own ethnic group. “Having diverse friendship groups impacts more forcefully on our prejudices than our prejudice does on our choice of friends,” said the study’s author Julian Hargreaves. “In other words, when it comes to tackling prejudice, friendship matters and works.”

As more people continue to work from home or in other nontraditional ways, exposure to people of diverse backgrounds and races can plummet. Without the creation of alternative opportunities for social mixing, the study concluded, this will likely lead directly to an increase in prejudice. To combat the problem, Hargreaves believes that creating new opportunities for friendships should be a key ingredient of public policy.

 

D.I. Fast Facts

900,000

Estimated copies of Barack Obama’s 768-page presidential memoir, A Promised Land, sold in its first 24 hours. The record-setting sales put the title on track to be the best-selling presidential memoir in modern history.
NBC News

 

1 in 10

Number of transgender people in the U.S. who have resorted to taking nonprescription hormones (acquired from friends, online or other unlicensed sources) due to a lack of health insurance.
Annals of Family Medicine 

 

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

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