Texas Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Atatiana Jefferson Convicted of Manslaughter

(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

The former Texas police officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson in her Fort Worth home in 2019 was convicted of manslaughter. The shooting set off national outrage after the bodycam footing showing the incident went viral on social media.


Jurors decided to convict Aaron Dean in connection with the shooting. It is a rare situation in which an officer is convicted of killing a civilian who was armed at the time of the incident. It is also the first time a police officer has been convicted of manslaughter due to an incident that happened while they were on duty. The officer faced both murder and manslaughter charges, but the jury decided to convict Dean on the latter charge.

The former police officer, 38, faces up to 20 years in prison. “The sentencing phase of his trial is set to begin Friday,” according to The New York Post.

The incident occurred when Dean and his partner, Officer Carol Darch responded to a call about an open front door at Jefferson’s home on October 12, 2019. A neighbor called the non-emergency police line to notify them that her front door had been left open. It was later revealed that she had been playing video games with her nephew and left the doors open to vent the smoke from burgers that he had burned earlier.

WFAA reported:

Dean responded to the call at 2:25 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2019, with his partner Darch. While Smith called in a welfare check, the call was filed under an “open structure” call. When responding, Dean checked the home and said he and his partner believed it was a burglary in process.

Dean said, as he stood in the back of the home, he saw a silhouette low in the window of Jefferson’s house. He said he could only see the upper arms of the body, and he believed there was movement.

Dean became visibly shaken during his testimony, telling the jury he started shouting commands for the silhouette to “put up your hands, show me your hands.”

After he shot one round through the bedroom window, he heard Jefferson scream. Later, he found her gun on the floor near her feet.


The bodycam footage showed that neither officer identified themselves upon arriving at Jefferson’s home. They went around the house to the backyard to look for signs of forced entry, suspecting the home may have been burglarized.

Dean, who was holding his firearm, saw Jefferson through the window and fired one shot at her a split second after shouting for her to show her hands. The officer testified that he did not have any other choice than to shoot after seeing the woman pointing a gun at him. “But under questioning from prosecutors he acknowledged numerous errors, repeatedly conceding that actions he took before and after the shooting were ‘more bad police work,’” according to The Post.

The main issue during the trial was whether the officer knew Jefferson was armed at the time of the shooting. Dean said he saw the weapon, but prosecutors argued that the evidence showed something different. Darch’s back was turned to the window when Dean fired the shot, but she told the jury he did not mention seeing a firearm before firing and did not say anything about it when they entered the home after the shooting.

Dean admitted that he only brought up the firearm after seeing it on the floor of the house. He also acknowledged that he failed to render first aid to Jefferson.

Zion, Jefferson’s 8-year-old nephew, was in the room when his aunt was shot. He said she brandished her firearm because she thought there was an intruder in the backyard. However, he “offered contradictory accounts of whether she pointed the pistol out the window.”


One of the reasons why this case received so much attention was because Jefferson was a black woman and the officer who killed her was white. It was seen as another case in which a police officer unjustly killed a black American. However, there was no evidence that race played a part in this particular shooting. But it was clearly a case of malfeasance on the part of the officer, who failed to identify himself and did not give Jefferson a chance to comply before shooting her. In this case, it appears justice was done.


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