Atatiana Jefferson trial: Former Texas officer, Aaron Dean, sentenced nearly 12 years in prison for killing a Black woman

FORT WORTH, Texas– A former Texas police officer who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson through a rear window of her home in 2019 was sentenced Tuesday to 11 years and 10 months in prison for manslaughter.

This video is from an earlier report.

Aaron Dean, 38, faced up to 20 years in prison, but the jury also had the option of a suspended sentence. The same jury that convicted him of manslaughter on Thursday also decided the sentence.

The white Fort Worth officer shot the 28-year-old black woman while responding to a call about an open door. His guilty verdict was a rare conviction from an officer for killing someone who was also armed with a gun.

The primary issue at trial was whether Dean knew Jefferson was armed. Dean testified that he saw her gun; Prosecutors claimed the evidence showed otherwise.

Dean shot and killed Jefferson on October 12, 2019 after a neighbor called a non-emergency police line to report that the front door of Jefferson’s home was open. She had been playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew that night, and it turned out in court that they left the doors open to let out smoke from hamburgers that the boy had burned.

The case was unusual for the relative speed with which the Fort Worth Police Department released video of the shooting amid public outrage and arrested Dean. He had graduated from the police academy the year before and left the police force without speaking to investigators.

Since then, the case has been repeatedly postponed amid legal wrangling, Dean’s lead attorney’s terminal illness and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Body camera footage showed Dean and a second officer who responded to the call did not identify themselves as officers inside the home. Dean and Officer Carol Darch testified that they thought the home might have been broken into and quietly moved into the fenced-off backyard to look for signs of forced entry.

There, Dean, gun drawn, fired a single shot through the window, a split second after she yelled at Jefferson, who was inside, to show her hands.

Dean testified that he had no choice when he saw Jefferson point the barrel of a gun directly at him. However, when questioned by prosecutors, he admitted numerous errors and repeatedly admitted that his actions before and after the shooting were “more bad police work”.

Darch had his back to the window as Dean fired, but she testified that he never mentioned seeing a gun before pulling the trigger and said nothing about the gun as they stormed in, around the house to browse.

Dean admitted on the witness stand that he only said anything about the gun after seeing it on the floor in the house and that he had never administered first aid to Jefferson.

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Alley Einstein

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