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Aaron Dean Found Guilty of Manslaughter

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Aaron Dean | Image by Amanda McCoy / AP

A Tarrant County jury on Thursday found former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean guilty of manslaughter for the shooting of Atatiana Jefferson through a rear window of her home in 2019.

Dean was charged with murder, but Judge George Gallagher had told the jury that they could consider the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The next phase of the trial will determine Dean’s punishment. The possible sentence for manslaughter is 2-20 years behind bars.

Dean was responding to a non-emergency open structure call at a home along East Allen Avenue on October 12, 2019, when he fired a single shot through a back window after he testified that he saw a silhouette and the barrel of a gun.

Dean had pleaded not guilty, with his attorneys arguing the former police officer was defending himself. 

Jefferson was inside the home playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when she got up to investigate a noise outside. She pulled a gun out of her purse and walked toward a window before Dean shot her.

Jurors began deliberating Wednesday afternoon after both sides rested their cases on Tuesday and made closing arguments Wednesday morning.

During closing arguments, Ashlea Deener, assistant criminal district attorney, showed pictures of Jefferson graduating college and on family vacations.

“If you can’t feel safe in your own home, where can you feel safe?” Deener said, emphasizing to the jury that the home was a sacred place. 

“The safety of our homes has been compromised by what he did,” Deener said. “He took her away — 28 years old.”

Deener told the jury that Dean exhibited “bias,” believing the neighborhood Jefferson lived in — Hillside Morningside neighborhood — was a dangerous area and claimed Dean did not serve all citizens equally. 

She said that other officers determined the shooting was murder.

Deener also asserted that Jefferson had a lawful right to have a gun in her home for self-defense.

“We have not seen one shred of evidence that anything Atatiana did was unlawful,” Deener said.

Defense attorney Bob Gill, by contrast, showed the jury pictures of Dean in uniform.

“A tragedy doesn’t always equal a crime,” Gill said, asserting that Dean also had a right to self-defense and that Jefferson waived those same rights when she allegedly pointed a gun at Dean.

“We never have the right under the law to point a firearm at a uniformed police officer,” Gill said. “That conduct is a first-degree felony.”

He said that police work is inherently dangerous and often calls for officers to make split-second decisions.

Dean acted “reasonably … tragically … but correctly under the law,” Gill said.

Judge Gallagher had told jurors that they could deliberate as long as they wanted before coming to a final decision. In the end, the jury deliberated for about 15 hours before reaching its verdict.

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Bill
Bill
1 month ago

They made the right call with a convection for manslaughter. He needs the full 20 years.

Janet
Janet
Reply to  Bill
1 month ago

The article said Police Officers have to make split second calls. So does a homeowner who doesn’t know if a person outside their window is friend or foe. The fact in hindsight it turned out to be a Police Officer may no have been apparent to her at that time. I did not follow this trial, but from what I have read and heard, it seems like an unfortunate situation for all. I feel for the neighbor who thought they were doing the right thing.