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Former police officer sentenced to over 11 years in prison for killing Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth

Aaron Dean, a former Texas police officer, has been sentenced to 11 years, 10 months, and 12 days in prison for the 2019 killing of Atatiana Jefferson, according to the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s office, according to a report released by CBS News on December 20, 2022.

Dean was found guilty of manslaughter on December 15 and sentenced on December 20. Initially indicted on a murder charge, the judge in the case allowed the jury to consider a manslaughter verdict, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison in Texas, according to the CBS News report.

Sentencing deliberations began on Monday, and the jury deliberated for more than seven hours before breaking for the day. The trial, which began three years after Jefferson’s killing, concluded with the sentencing.

According to the prosecutor, Dale Smith, Dean did not announce himself when he entered the backyard of Jefferson’s Fort Worth-area home on October 12, 2019, in response to a call about an open front door.

Jefferson’s nephew, who was in the home at the time, said the door had been left open to vent smoke from burnt hamburgers. Dean said he believed a burglary was in progress.

The main question of the trial was whether Dean saw Jefferson’s weapon before shooting in self-defense or if he never saw the gun and did not give Jefferson time to comply with commands.

Based on the report by US News on December 14, 2022, Dean had recently completed police academy training and quit the force two days after the shooting, hours before being arrested and charged with murder. The prosecutor described Dean as a “gung-ho, hard charger” who “just shot.”

The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office emphasized that the trial was not about politics or race but about holding someone accountable for breaking the law. The jury agreed and made sure justice was served, according to the prosecutor.

 

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