Former Ft. Worth police officer responsible for the 2019 shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, Aaron Dean, showed no emotion as the jury handed out an almost 12-year prison sentence on Tuesday. What started as a routine burglary investigation ended in tragedy for the Jefferson family.
According to Dean’s testimony, he believed burglars ransacked the house. While looking through a window, he claimed he saw Jefferson aiming a gun with a green laser sight directly at him. Dean fired a single shot through the window killing the 28-year-old black woman.
Initially charged with murder, the jury decided there was enough evidence to lessen the charge to manslaughter. He was found guilty last Thursday. While the Jefferson family wanted a murder conviction, they are relieved that the jury awarded some justice for their family. The former police officer will be eligible for parole after serving half of his sentence.
Ashley Carr, sister of Atatiana Jefferson, spoke on behalf of her family at a press conference after the verdict where she announced the family would be pursuing federal and civil charges against Dean.
“Are we happy? We knew it was murder. Anything other than that, it’s part of a relief,” she said. “But is it over? No. Is this fight over? No.”
His former partner, Carol Darch, could not corroborate his testimony.
“The only thing I could see was eyes, really. I couldn’t make out if it was a male or a female. I just saw someone in the window and I saw their eyes as big as saucers,” Darch said in her testimony on the second day of the trial.
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Darch also testified to not having her body cam that night because it had been misplaced at the station. Body cam footage from Dean’s camera, however, appeared to support the rest of Darch’s testimony where she admitted to Dean breaking protocol by not yelling “gun” before firing or mentioning a weapon before running into the house.
Zion Carr, Jefferson’s 11-year-old nephew who was in the home at the time of the shooting, also testified. He was eight years old at the time of the incident.
“I was thinking, ‘Is it a dream?’” he said during his testimony. “She was crying and just shaking.”
On that evening, a neighbor called 911 because the front door had been open at the house for a few hours going late into the evening. Zion testified that they had burnt some hamburgers and had the door open to air out the house.
Tarrant County DIstrict Attorney, Sharen Wilson, released a statement after the verdict saying the trial was “difficult for all involved.”
“This trial wasn’t about politics, and it wasn’t about race,” Wilson wrote. “If someone breaks the law, they have to be held accountable. The jury agreed. We thank the jury members for making sure justice was served.”
The exact verdict assigned Dean to 11 years, 10 months, and 12 days in prison. While they didn’t explain how they got to that number, Amber Carr has a theory that she expressed in a Facebook post saying the verdict represents 11-year-old Zion and the date of Jefferson’s death, October 10, 2019.
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was there mistakes made; absolutely! was there another outcome possible; absolutely! did this cop strap on his duty belt saying he was going to kill a black person on that shift; absolutely not! has the pos atty that keeps trying to send anyone in l/e to prison for taking on the bad element in this country ever patrolled the streets; absolutely not! will there ever be a police chief with balls to stand up to the political community pressure; absolutely not!
just as this pos atty said in his news conference that cops will think “twice” before making decisions that involve citizens lives… this is exactly why he and the rest DO NOT understand; you DO NOT always get a “twice” chance in a matter of SECONDS to defend your life!!! THIS IS WHY seasoned cops “should have/do have” the attitude that you mr pos atty better NOT dial 911 for me to come runnin’ when that bad guy is in YOUR house!!!
Citizens don’t get another life either pal. Regardless you have the mentality of 13 year old. In no no other civilized country cam you take a citizens life because you felt threatened. Cops in some places not all cops because the amount of bad pd is small. But they were given a license to kill if the see fit. Which is exactly what has happened. Why do they always first go to lethal force. Why because for so long cop’s we’re given a free pass and that has too stop.