Ex-Texas Policeman Found Guilty In Killing Of Atatiana Jefferson

Aaron Dean, a former Fort Worth officer was convicted of manslaughter in the 2019 shooting, which stemmed from a police response to a burglary call.

The former officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson in her mother’s home in Fort Worth, Tex., was found guilty of manslaughter on Thursday (Dec. 15), CBS DFW reported. A Tarrant County jury considered both murder and the lesser manslaughter charges before convicting Aaron Dean on the latter charge.

After five days of testimony in which experts in police procedure as well as Jefferson’s nephew were called to the stand, jurors began to deliberate on Wednesday morning under sequestration.

"If you can't feel safe in your own home? Where can we feel safe? It's where we make memories. That's why it's sacred. That's why it's so important,” Asst. District Attorney Ashlea Deener said in closing arguments. "Atatiana didn't commit a crime by walking up to her window to protect herself and her nephew. She was in her own home.”

But Defense attorney Bob Gill countered, saying: "This is a tragedy. It was a tragedy on that day. And it will continue to be one. But a tragedy doesn't always equate to a crime.”

On Oct. 12, 2019, Dean and another officer responded to a call around 2:30 a.m. to investigate a door that was left open to the house. A neighbor called the city’s non-emergency number to report the door being left unsecured, because he said he found such a thing unusual.

The Texas Tribune reported that the decision was made to treat the call as different from a routine wellness check, which would have required the officers to approach the home, announce themselves and knock.

RELATED: Sister, Forensic Pathologist Testify In Murder Trial Of Ex-Cop In Atatiana Jefferson’s Death

Jefferson and her nephew  Zion Carr, just 8 at the time, were up late playing video games. Jefferson was startled by the sound the officers made approaching the house, and she grabbed a handgun from her purse as she went to investigate.

Dean testified that he believed there was a burglary at the home and while he was in the backyard he saw a gun pointed at him. His body camera footage shows Dean shouting, "Put your hands up, show me your hands," and a fatal shot at Jefferson through the window.

"And as I started to get that second phrase out, I saw the silhouette... and 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 testified. “And immediately had the flash from the muzzle reflecting off the window, and as my weapon recoiled the light was bouncing on my vision so I couldn't see. When my vision cleared, then I observed the person... that we now know as Ms. Jefferson. I heard her scream and fall like this. And I knew that I had shot that person."

But in his own testimony, Zion, who was in the room when Jefferson was shot, gave a different perspective. He said that he was in the bedroom playing video games with his “Aunt Tay” when she pulled a gun from her purse after hearing a suspicious noise behind the house.

He said the home’s doors were opened because he and his aunt had accidentally burned hamburgers earlier that evening. He didn’t see her raise her gun toward the window before Dean fired. Zion then saw her fall to the ground and start crying.

“I was thinking, ‘Is it a dream?’” he testified. “She was crying and just shaking.”

The sentencing phase of the trial will begin on Friday (Dec. 16)  Under the Texas Code Dean faces between two and 20 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.

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