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Aaron Dean, the former Texas police officer who shot Atatiana Jefferson in 2019, was found guilty of manslaughter on Dec.15.
USA Today reports it took the Tarrant County jury more than 13 hours of deliberation spread over two days to return the verdict. The trial consisted of six days of testimony.
On Oct. 12, 2019, Dean responded to a non-emergency call to Jefferson’s residence. The call was made by a neighbor, reporting an open door. Inside, Jefferson, 28, was playing video games with her nephew.
Documents revealed the door was left open to allow smoke to clear the home after Jefferson’s nephew burned hamburgers.
Sending hugs, love & light to the amazingly strong family of Atatiana Jefferson who persevered through such a difficult tragedy. Aaron Dean was found guilty! Rest in Love, Queen. pic.twitter.com/oq9scWMOw1
— Rep. Jasmine Crockett (@JasmineForUS) December 15, 2022
USA Today reports that body camera footage shows Dean going into Atatiana Jefferson’s fenced-off backyard. He then walked around the side of the house through a gate into the backyard.
He then fired through a glass window seconds after yelling at Jefferson. Arguments were centered around if the 38-year-old officer knew if Jefferson was armed when he shot her. In official court documents, Dean testified that he saw Jefferson with a weapon.
On Dec. 5, Jefferson’s 8-year-old nephew, Zion Carr, was the first witness to take the stand. Carr claimed his aunt heard a noise while they were playing video games.
“Someone lost their life… and he’s cracking jokes from the witness stand?!”
The State delivered the final word to the jury before deliberations began. Ex-cop #AaronDean is on trial for the shooting of #AtatianaJefferson while she babysat her nephew.#VerdictWatch #CourtTV pic.twitter.com/DWCIeTOkGb
— Court TV (@CourtTV) December 14, 2022
He stated his aunt seized her gun from her purse and walked toward the window to see where the noise was coming from. He then said she fell to the ground and was crying. Carr claimed his aunt did not point her gun.
Carol Darch was Dean’s partner at the time of the shooting. She took the stand after Carr and testified that she never saw Jefferson’s gun. She added she had never heard her partner say Jefferson was holding a weapon.
She stated that she and Dean treated the call as a possible robbery and did not announce themselves. She claimed she did not hear her then-partner yell “gun” before he pulled the trigger.
She also stated he never mentioned anything about Jefferson drawing a weapon when they rushed in to search the home.
This is the woman the judge addressed right after the verdict was read, speaking out inside the courtroom. This is what happened in the hallway after. She has been escorted from the courthouse. – video by @LawCrimeNetwork producer. #AaronDean #AtatianaJefferson pic.twitter.com/dyekcU7EVW
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) December 15, 2022
If convicted of murder, Dean faced up to life in prison. Now, with the manslaughter conviction, he faces up to 20 years in prison. The alternative was offered after the judge told the jury, which included no Black jurors, according to the Dallas Morning News, that they could choose the lesser charge.