Officer gets nearly 12 years for killing Atatiana Jefferson

Dec 19, 2022, 10:12 PM | Updated: Dec 20, 2022, 3:50 pm
Aaron Dean, center, stands with his defense team as Judge George Gallagher reads his sentence on Tu...

Aaron Dean, center, stands with his defense team as Judge George Gallagher reads his sentence on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022, at Tarrant County's 396th District Court at the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Former Fort Worth police officer Dean was sentenced to nearly 12 years after being convicted of manslaughter in the 2019 killing of Atatiana Jefferson. (Amanda McCoy/Star-Telegram via AP, Pool)

(Amanda McCoy/Star-Telegram via AP, Pool)

A former Texas police officer who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson through a rear window of her home in 2019 was sentenced Tuesday to nearly 12 years in prison for his manslaughter conviction.

Aaron Dean, 38, had faced up to 20 years in prison, but jurors also had the option of sentencing him to probation. The same jury that convicted him of manslaughter Thursday also determined the sentence — 11 years, 10 months and 12 days.

The white Fort Worth officer shot the 28-year-old Black woman while responding to a call about an open front door. His guilty verdict was a rare conviction of an officer for killing someone who was also armed with a gun.

During the trial, the primary dispute was whether Dean knew Jefferson was armed. Dean testified that he saw her weapon; prosecutors claimed the evidence showed otherwise.

Dean shot Jefferson on Oct. 12, 2019, after a neighbor called a nonemergency police line to report that the front door to Jefferson’s home was open. She had been playing video games that night with her 8-year-old nephew, Zion Carr, and it emerged at trial that they left the doors open to vent smoke from hamburgers the boy burnt. Zion, now 11, was in the room with his aunt when she was shot and testified during the trial.

After the sentence was pronounced, one of Jefferson’s sisters, Ashley Carr, read a statements in court from herself and another sister, Amber Carr, who is Zion’s mother.

Amber Carr, said Jefferson, who planned to go to medical school, “had big dreams and goals” and that her son “feels he is responsible to fill the whole role of his aunt, and he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.”

Ashley Carr called her sister “a beautiful ray of sunshine.”

“She was in her home, which should have been the safest place for her to be, and yet turned out to be the most dangerous,” she said.

At a news conference held later Tuesday outside of the home where Jefferson was killed, Ashley Carr said the family wanted Dean sentenced to more time, but saw symbolism in the sentence chosen by the jury.

“Eleven years, that’s the same age as Zion,” she said. “Ten months, 12 days, that’s the day that it happened. It’s a message in this. It might not be the message that we wanted and the whole dream, but it’s some of it.”

Attorneys for Dean did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press following the sentencing.

The case was unusual for the relative speed with which, amid public outrage, the Fort Worth Police Department released video of the shooting and arrested Dean. He’d completed the police academy the year before and quit the force without speaking to investigators.

Since then, the case was repeatedly postponed amid lawyerly wrangling, the terminal illness of Dean’s lead attorney and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Body camera footage showed that Dean and a second officer who responded to the call didn’t identify themselves as police at the house. Dean and Officer Carol Darch testified that they thought the house might have been burglarized and quietly moved into the fenced-off backyard looking for signs of forced entry.

There, Dean, whose gun was drawn, fired a single shot through the window a split-second after shouting at Jefferson, who was inside, to show her hands.

Dean testified that he had no choice when he saw Jefferson pointing the barrel of a gun directly at him. But under questioning from prosecutors he acknowledged numerous errors, repeatedly conceding that actions he took before and after the shooting were “more bad police work.”

Darch’s back was to the window when Dean shot, but she testified that he never mentioned seeing a gun before he pulled the trigger and didn’t say anything about the weapon as they rushed in to search the house.

Dean acknowledged on the witness stand that he said something about the gun only after seeing it on the floor inside the house and that he never gave Jefferson first aid.

Zion testified that Jefferson took out her gun believing there was an intruder in the backyard, but he offered contradictory accounts of whether she pointed the pistol out the window. On the trial’s opening day, he testified that Jefferson always had the gun pointed down, but in an interview that was recorded soon after the shooting and played in court, Zion said she had pointed the weapon at the window.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Paul Njoroge, right, points to photos of his wife and three children that were killed in the 2019 c...
Associated Press

Boeing pleads not guilty in case over deadly Max crashes

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Boeing pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge that it misled regulators who approved its 737 Max, the plane that was involved in two crashes that killed 346 people. Family members of passengers who died gave emotional testimony, calling for criminal prosecution of top Boeing officials. The families are trying […]
21 hours ago
abortion Capital gains tax Olympia meeting legislature abortion...
Associated Press

Washington lawmakers hear testimony on 7 abortion bills

Abortion rights proposals have been front and center in Olympia, Washington, this week as state lawmakers heard hours of public testimony on seven proposals that would reinforce abortion access.
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: JAN 27, Auschwitz and Birkenau liberated

Today in History Today is Friday, Jan. 27, the 27th day of 2022. There are 338 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Jan. 27, 1967, astronauts Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee died in a flash fire during a test aboard their Apollo spacecraft. On this […]
21 hours ago
A building burns amid anti-government protests in downtown Lima, Peru, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. Pro...
Associated Press

AP Week in Pictures: Latin America and Caribbean

Jan. 20-26, 2023 This photo gallery highlights some of the most compelling images made or published by Associated Press photographers in Latin America and the Caribbean. It was curated by AP photo editor Leslie Mazoch in Mexico City. Follow AP visual journalism: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/apnews AP Images on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Images AP Images blog: http://apimagesblog.com Copyright © […]
21 hours ago
Research and development engineer Ravneet Kailey performs an experiment to produce steel without us...
Associated Press

US company gets $120 million boost to make ‘green steel’

The manufacture of “green steel” moved one step closer to reality Friday as Massachusetts-based Boston Metal announced a $120 million investment from the world’s second-largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal. Boston Metal will use the injection of funds to expand production at a pilot plant in Woburn, near Boston, and help launch commercial production in Brazil. The company […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Mexico finds 57 adolescent migrants crammed into truck

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican immigration authorities said they found 57 Guatemalan adolescents packed into a trailer on a highway near the U.S. border Thursday. The National Immigration Institute said the 43 boys and 14 girls were crammed into the truck’s trailer, along with eight men and a woman and her daughter. All of the […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Officer gets nearly 12 years for killing Atatiana Jefferson