Those following the trial of former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean in the killing of Atatiana Jefferson will have to wait another day for jurors to hand down a sentence.
Members of the jury heard more testimony Monday but were unable to come to a decision. As a result, the jury was sequestered and will return to deliberate Tuesday.
The jury found Dean guilty of manslaughter in the 2019 shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson last week.
The guilty verdict was reached after five days of testimony and more than 13 hours of deliberation.
With the trial in the sentencing phase, supporters of Jefferson waited anxiously Monday to learn how long Dean’s sentence would be, as the former Fort Worth police officer faces between two to 20 years in prison.
The delay caused by the ongoing jury deliberations is adding tension to a case that has already incensed the public.
Patrice Jones, the founder of Southside Community Garden, a non-profit organization that provides fresh produce throughout the 76104-zip code of Fort Worth, spoke to The Dallas Express outside the courtroom about her feelings on the Dean verdict.
“It was not sufficient; I feel like it’s an injustice to black women across America. It’s an injustice to black residents from Fort Worth because we can’t even protect ourselves in our own home, which is supposed to be our sanctuary,” said Jones to The Dallas Express.
“Black people are just not safe in Fort Worth, Texas. Fort Worth PD aims at black targets 55% of the time and we only make up 18% of the population. Black people are not safe, and it worries me that Fort Worth had the fastest-growing black population in 2021, so black people are moving here believing that this is a safe place and it’s not,” Jones argued.
When asked what she thought about the makeup of the jury, Jones told The Dallas Express that she doesn’t feel it is an accurate representation of Fort Worth.
“There’s no black people on the jury, so I didn’t think that was fair or a real representation of Fort Worth, Texas.”
That sentiment was echoed beyond the doors of the courtrooms.
“Not good, delayed justice, not sure why we would have to wait another day. They’ve been given the instructions. The defense did their closing argument on the sentencing and the D.A. did their closing argument on the sentencing they have everything they need,” said JacQuetta Clayton, who was there in support of Jefferson, speaking to The Dallas Express.
A local resident at the courthouse in support of Jefferson, Clayton had been waiting in anticipation of the jury’s decision on Monday.
“They’ve already found him guilty. Now is just the time. I don’t think we should go into another day, but that’s my opinion. I don’t like it. I think it’s delayed justice,” she said.
Dean’s sister, Alyssa, who has been a police officer for the Arlington Police Department for eight years, disagreed with the verdict and says her brother couldn’t have handled the situation better. She described his actions as a “split-second decision,” as The Dallas Express previously reported.
“He did not know everything,” she said in her testimony. “He knew he did not know everything, and he was eager to learn every day.”
Dean’s attorneys have urged the jury to consider probation. Prosecutors have called for the maximum sentence of 20 years.
Jurors will continue their deliberation early Tuesday morning.