Ex-officer sentenced to 11 years for killing of Atatiana Jefferson
Aaron Dean, the former Fort Worth police officer who killed Atatiana Jefferson, has been sentenced to 11 years, 10 months and 12 days in prison.
Driving the news: A Tarrant County jury decided Dean's sentence after two days of deliberation.
- The same jury found Dean guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter last week. He was on trial for a murder charge.
Catch up fast: Court testimony showed Dean did not follow Fort Worth Police Department standard practice the night he went into the backyard of Jefferson's home and shot her through a window in October 2019.
- Dean exhibits narcissistic and domineering personality traits "that could put himself and others at risk," a psychologist who evaluated him before he was hired by the police department testified during the trial’s punishment phase Friday.
- Yes, but: Others who testified Friday vouched for Dean's character.
Why it matters: Dean joins a short list of former police officers convicted and sentenced in on-duty shootings, many involving white officers and Black people.
- Jefferson, a Black woman, was killed in a predominantly Black neighborhood in east Fort Worth. Dean is white.
Details: Though Dean didn't pass his initial psychological evaluation to work as a police officer, a panel of three psychologists deemed him fit to work at the police department.
- Dean was hired in 2017 and had about two years on the job before he and another officer responded around 2:30am to a non-emergency call for a welfare check at Jefferson's home, per court testimony and police records.
- The officers didn't knock or announce they were police. Dean went around the house into the backyard, shooting through the window of the bedroom where Jefferson had been playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew.
What they're saying: Defense attorneys argued Dean acted in self-defense because Jefferson had a gun in her hand when he fired.
- "Aaron didn't know who was on the other side of that window. As much as people want to make this a racial issue, it's not," Bob Gill said during closing Monday. "All he knew was they were armed and they were a threat."
The other side: Prosecutors called Dean "entitled" and "arrogant" and alleged he acted without regard for proper police procedure.
- "He had so many opportunities to make other decisions so that we wouldn't be here. He continued to push forward, because that's who he is," Dale Smith said during closing.
What's next: Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker and City Council member Chris Nettles have been ordered to appear at a Jan. 4 contempt of court hearing after making public comments on Dean's conviction despite a gag order, per the Star-Telegram.
- Nettles called the manslaughter conviction a "slap in the face to the Black communities in Fort Worth and across the country."