Ex-Fort Worth cop sentenced to nearly 12 years for manslaughter of Atatiana Jefferson

Aaron Dean, a former Fort Worth police officer, enters Tarrant County's 396th District Court on Dec. 15, 2022. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to 11 years and 10 months in prison. (Amanda Mccoy/Tns/Abaca Via Reuters, Amanda Mccoy/Tns/Abaca Via Reuters)

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Aaron Dean, the former Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson in 2019, received an 11-year, 10-month prison sentence after a Tarrant County jury unanimously convicted him of manslaughter last week.

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In 2019, a neighbor called a nonemergency police line, requesting a wellness check on Jefferson’s mother’s home, where Jefferson was watching her nephew. Aaron Dean, 38, a white police officer, responded to the call and shot Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black woman, through the window. He resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department days later, before the police chief could fire Dean for violating use-of-force and deescalation policies.

Jefferson’s 8-year-old nephew was in the room at the time she was killed. They had stayed up late playing video games. Now 11, he testified during the trial last week.

As Judge George Gallagher read the jury’s verdict on Tuesday, Dean did not display emotion after learning he could spend over a decade in prison. Dean is eligible for parole once he’s served half his sentence.

After the sentencing, several of Jefferson’s family members addressed Dean.

“She was a beautiful flower just starting to bloom, and she was cut down, senselessly,” said Jefferson’s sister, Ashley Carr, in a victim impact statement. “I stand here today on behalf of my mother who spent her last days on Earth overcome with grief and sorrow.”

Jefferson’s mother, Yolanda Carr, and her father, Marquis Jefferson, died before Dean was convicted.

Her family spoke of Jefferson’s ambitions to become a doctor. She was a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana.

The shooting came less than two weeks after former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder of 26-year-old Botham Jean in his Dallas home. Guyger said she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own, one floor below, and shot and killed him after entering it.

Despite Dean’s manslaughter conviction, he received a longer prison sentence than Guyger. Under the Texas Penal Code, the prison sentence for manslaughter is between two and 20 years.

Both Jefferson’s and Jean’s killings sparked calls for accountability in how police treat Black Americans. Seven months after Dean shot Jefferson, a white Minneapolis officer murdered George Floyd, a Black man, which prompted international protests against police brutality.

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