Former Officer Aaron Dean Sentenced To Nearly 12 Years For The Shooting Death Of Atatiana Jefferson
Former officer Aaron Dean was found guilty of the manslaughter of Atatiana Jefferson on Dec. 15. On Tuesday, a judge sentenced him to 11 years, ten months, and 12 days in prison.
"This verdict and sentence won't bring Atatiana Jefferson back," Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson said in a statement following the sentencing. "This trial was difficult for all involved, including our community. My sympathies remain with Atatiana's family and friends, and I pray they find peace. This trial wasn't about politics, and it wasn't about race. If someone breaks the law, they have to be held accountable. The jury agreed. We thank the jury members for making sure justice was served."
Dean was initially indicted on a murder charge for the 2019 killing of Jefferson. But a judge told jurors they could consider a manslaughter verdict, which in Texas carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The jury deliberated for more than seven hours on Monday before they finally broke for a break.
Dean's sentencing is the conclusion of a trial that started three years after Jefferson was fatally shot in her Forth Worth-area home.
Dean was working as a police officer when he was dispatched to her house on Oct. 12, 2019, for a call about an open front door after a neighbor made a report to a nonemergency police line.
Dean said he thought it was a burglary in progress and went to the home's backyard for signs of an intruder.
Jefferson's then 8-year-old nephew was also at the residence that tragic day and said the reason the door had been left open was to vent smoke from hamburgers he burned, CBS News reported.
Her nephew said his aunt grabbed her handgun because she heard noises coming from outside.
Prosecutors claim Dean did not announce himself at any time.
Prosecutors and the defense argued on
whether the officer saw the victim's weapon before discharging his firearm. Dean went on the stand and said that he had seen the gun barrel pointed at him, so he opened fire, which led his attorney Bob Gill to say his client was defending himself.
However, protection argued that Dean did not give Jefferson time to comply with his commands, which was supported by body camera footage that shows Dean shooting Jefferson about a second after he first addressed her.
Dean was a year into his duties before the 2019 shooting but resigned two days after. That same day he was arrested and charged with murder.
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