The murder trial of a former Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot Atiana Jefferson in front of her teenage nephew in her Texas home in 2019.
Aaron Dean, who is white, was charged with murder after opening fire through a black woman’s bedroom window. The shooting was witnessed by his then 8-year-old nephew.
Opening statements are scheduled during a short court day Monday, so people can attend the funeral of lead defense attorney Jim Lane, who died suddenly in late November.
Jury selection ended Friday. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, eight men and six women were selected.
Judge George Gallagher has issued a gag order for the trial, which is expected to last two weeks.
Dean has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, which In Texas, the penalty is 5 to 99 years.
Police responded to Jefferson’s home around 2:25 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2019, after a neighbor reported her doors were left open in the middle of the night.
The neighbor called the non-emergency police number to check on the safety of Jefferson’s home.
Heavily edited body camera footage showed an officer peering through two open doors, but did not knock or announce his presence. Instead, he wandered around the house for about a minute.
Finally, the officer approached a window and shined a flashlight into what appeared to be a dark room.
“Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” the officer yelled before firing one shot, according to body camera footage. He did not identify himself as police. Any point in the video.
In the video, the glare of the officer’s flashlight makes it difficult to see anyone in the window.
Jefferson, 28, was pronounced dead minutes later.
Her nephew would later tell an investigator that his aunt heard a commotion outside, pulled a handgun from her purse and pointed it at the window. said the police.
The shooting was widely condemned, with the National Black Police Association saying in a statement that the deaths of black civilians at the hands of white officers had “reached an alarming rate.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price at the time said Jefferson’s killing was unjustified and “unacceptable”.
Police initially said the officer fired his gun “after sensing a threat.” Officers provided medical aid after the shooting, according to police.
Officers found a firearm when they entered the room where Jefferson died, police said. Video released by police showed two mostly blurry clips, which appeared to show firearms inside the home.
Dean, 34 at the time of the shooting, was hired in August 2017 and commissioned as a licensed officer in April 2018, police said.
Two days after the shooting, Dean resigned from the police force and was arrested and charged with murder. The offense for which he was charged. In December 2019.
The day after Dean’s arrest, Lane told CNN His client is “grieving and his family is in shock.”
According to a lawyer for Jefferson’s family, Jefferson was trying to protect his nephew from what they both believed to be a prowler.
Family attorney S. Lee Merritt said at the time that she had moved into her ailing mother’s Fort Worth home a few months earlier to care for her. She also cared for her nephews.
The night of the shooting, Jefferson stayed up late playing video games with her nephew. To Merritt’s credit, they paid the call of duty at night and left the door open to enjoy the crisp autumn air after weeks of intense heat.
According to his family’s attorney, Jefferson graduated from Xavier University in Louisiana in 2014 with a degree in biology and worked in pharmaceutical device sales.
The Premed graduate, popularly known as “Tay”, was hailed as a loving, caring and reliable auntie who achieved many things in life.
His nephew, Zion Carr, who witnessed the shooting, is a victim. Post-traumatic stress disorderMerritt said. Since his death, relatives said they have struggled to watch videos of other police killings.
Jefferson’s father, Marquis Jefferson, He suffered a heart attack and died in November 2019, just weeks after Dean shot his daughter. He was 59 years old.
Jefferson’s mother, Yolanda CarrMerritt died at her home in Fort Worth in January 2020 after an illness. Carr was ill and could not attend her daughter’s funeral.
Instead, Rev. Jaime Kowlessar read a letter from Carr at the service.
“You often said you were going to change the world,” Carr wrote. “I think you still will.”