Aaron Dean found guilty of manslaughter in the 2019 murder of Atatiana Jefferson

Aaron Dean Trial: Reactions to Manslaughter Verdict

Aaron Dean Trial: Reactions to Manslaughter Verdict


Aaron Dean, the white former Texas police officer accused of shooting and killing Atatiana Jefferson, a black woman, in her own home, has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Dean had originally been charged with murder. On Wednesday, the judge told jurors they could consider a verdict of manslaughter.

Dean will be sentenced at a later date. The maximum sentence for manslaughter in Texas is 20 years in prison.

Dean arrived at Jefferson’s home on October 12, 2019, responding to a call about an open front door. It was revealed during the long-delayed trial that Jefferson’s nephew passed by and the door to the house was left open to let out the smoke from the burgers he had burned. A neighbor had reported the open door to a non-emergency police line, and Dean testified that he believed a burglary was in progress.

While looking for signs of burglary, Dean went to the backyard of the house. Jefferson was at a window with a handgun she owned. Jefferson’s nephew, who was 8 at the time of the shooting, said his aunt grabbed the gun because she heard noises outside.

The main issue in the trial was whether Dean saw the gun before he opened fire. Dean testified that he saw the barrel of the gun pointed at him, so he opened fire; his defense attorney, Bob Gill, said in his closing statements that Dean had a right to defend himself.

While pleading his case, prosecutor Dale Smith argued that Dean did not announce himself and did not give Jefferson time to comply with commands such as raising his hands. Prosecutors also alleged that Dean never saw the gun and described him as a “gung-ho, hard-charger” who “just fired.” Body camera footage released by the Fort Worth Police Department shows Dean shooting about a second after addressing Jefferson.

Dean had completed his police academy training the year before the 2019 shooting, and leave the force two days after the shooting, hours before he was arrested and charged with murder.

Jefferson’s death, about seven months before the death of George Floyd sparked protests around the world, has also sparked outrage. CBS News DFW reporter Caroline Vandergriff said the scene after the verdict was read aloud was emotional, with audible outrage in the background and chants of “no justice, no peace” from of those who had watched the trial.

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