Ex-Cop Found Guilty of Manslaughter for Shooting Atatiana Jefferson Through Her Bedroom Window

A Texas jury deliberated for 13 hours before finding former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean guilty of manslaughter on Thursday in the fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson in October 2019.

Dean shot and killed Jefferson, 28, with a single shot through her bedroom window on October 12 after a neighbor asked for a welfare check because the lights were on and the door open, as CrimeOnline previously reported. Jefferson and her young nephew were in fact in her bedroom playing video games at the time.

Body camera footage shows Dean and his partner walking around Jefferson’s house talking quietly to each other without identifying themselves as police officers. Dean walked around to the back of the house, and — apparently seeing movement in the bedroom window — shouted “Put your hands up! Let me see your hands” and less than a second later, fired the shot that killed her.

Jefferson, hearing someone walking around her house, had picked up her own gun to investigate. Dean testified during his trial that he fired the fatal shot when he found himself “looking down the barrel” of Jefferson’s gun and was surprised to find a boy and a dog inside after the shooting, KTVT reported.

Dean resigned from the police force two days later and was arrested on a murder charge.

At the close of the trial, state District Judge George Gallagher gave the jury the option of considering a manslaughter charge.

“I am one of the judges. The other is you the jury. You are judges of the facts only. Your sole duty is to determine whether the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant is guilty,” Gallagher told jurors on Wednesday before the attorneys delivered their closing arguments.

“If you can’t feel safe in your own home, where can we feel safe?” Assistant Tarrant County District Attorney Ashlea Deener said. “It’s where we make memories. That’s why it’s sacred. That’s why it’s so important.”

“Atatiana didn’t commit a crime by walking up to her window to protect herself and her nephew. She was in her own home.”

Deener’s attorney, Bob Gill, told the jurors that Dean acted from his training and said that Jefferson “had the right to defend herself and her nephew in her home until she pointed a gun at a Fort Worth police officer.”

“Pointing a firearm at another human being is a progressive, violent, provocative event. Aaron’s actions that evening were justified,” he said. “He was sent out there by his department to do a job. He reasonably believed that his deadly force was necessary against her because it’s universally against the law in the state of Texas to point a gun at a uniformed police officer.”

The jury was willing to consider the lesser charge, manslaughter, instead of murder, but they couldn’t follow Gill’s arguments all the way, since Dean was walking around in the dark, shining his flashlight into her window, and did not identify himself as a police officer.

Dean called for emergency services but did not render first aid to Jefferson as she lay on the bedroom floor.

The sentencing phase of the trial began on Friday and will continue on Monday. Dean faces two to 22 years in prison.

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[Featured image: Atatiana Jefferson, left, and Aaron Dean/handout]