The murder trial for a former Texas police officer who shot and killed a Black woman in her home is set to begin on Monday.
According to the AP, Jefferson was playing video games with her then-8-year-old nephew, when she heard suspicious noises coming from behind the house. Jefferson pulled out a gun just in case she needed to protect her nephew. She was then shot by Dean. Body-camera footage determined Dean never identified himself as a police officer.
Atatiana Jefferson was reportedly shot within four seconds of officer Dean arriving.
The neighbor who called the non-emergency police number in Fort Worth said he only reached out to the police because he found it curious that her lights were on and her door was open at such a late hour. James Smith said he was concerned because he said he knew Jefferson’s young nephew was there with her. But now, Smith said he regretted contacting law enforcement about Jefferson, who he called his friend.
In a subsequent press release announcing the shooting, Fort Worth police claimed the officer was “Perceiving a threat” at the time. The press release also said that officers saw “a firearm” when they entered Jefferson’s home and found her. The Fort Worth Police Department then reportedly released an image of that firearm, even though there was no claim of that gun being used or even wielded during the one-sided encounter. Texas is a state with laws that permit citizens to openly carry guns.
Police Chief Ed Kraus said during the press conference that Dean “resigned before his opportunity to cooperate.” Kraus said he planned to fire Dean before finding out he quit.
Bringing Aaron Dean’s case to trial has been a slow, laboring process. After he was arrested, his case has been postponed numerous times due to the terminal illness of his attorney and the COVID-19 pandemic. Dean’s lead defense attorney, Jim Lane, died last week just as jury selection was set to begin.
Dean pleaded not guilty and has been free on a $200,000 bond.
Hopefully, this trial will bring the family of Atatiana Jefferson some closure as well as some justice.
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