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A former Fort Worth officer was convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of 28-year-old Black woman, Atatiana Jefferson. Aaron Dean, who is white, fired his weapon through a rear window of her Texas home while responding to a call about an open front door.
Dean could face up to 20 years in prison.
The shooting took place after police responded to Jefferson’s house early hours of the morning on October 12, 2019, after a neighbor reported that her doors were open in the middle of the night. The neighbor asked for a safety check at Jefferson’s house. Dean and his partner failed to identify themselves as police when scoping out Jefferson’s home. Jefferson heard noises and saw a flashlight outside her home and proceeded to take out her own gun.
“As I started to get that second phrase out, ‘Show me your hands,’ I saw a silhouette,” the former officer told the jury. “I was looking right down the barrel of a gun, and when I saw the barrel of that gun pointed at me, I fired a single shot from my duty weapon.” He believed the house was in the process of being burglarized. Dean claimed that he fired at her through the window “because we’re taught to meet deadly force with deadly force. We’re not taught that we have to wait.” On the stand, he admitted that many of his actions that night were “bad police work,” but his admissions mean very little to the Jefferson family who have lost a loved one.
Following the verdict, the Jefferson family remained tight-lipped, obviously disappointed with the outcome.
“We’re glad there was a guilty verdict. That’s progress,” the Rev. Crystal Bates, a minister and activist, told WFAA. “But there’s so much work to be done… How he is sentenced is going to send a message not only to him but to other law enforcement to not be so trigger happy when you see somebody of color.”