Former US police officer gets nearly 12 years for fatal shooting | Courts News

Ex-officer was convicted of manslaughter for fatally shooting 28-year-old black woman Atatiana Jefferson at her Texas home.

A former Texas police officer has been sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison for fatally shooting Atatiana Jefferson, a black woman, through the back window of her home in 2019 after she entered her property unannounced.

On Tuesday, a jury sentenced 38-year-old Aaron Dean to 11 years and 10 months in prison after he convicted Dean of manslaughter last Thursday. He risked a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

“Today’s sentencing is one small step toward justice for Atatiana Jefferson and her family,” U.S. Congressman Marc Veasey, representing a Texas district, said in a post-conviction statement last week.

“This verdict underscores the important work that needs to be done locally and nationally to ensure that a tragedy like this does not happen again.”

While the police killings of unarmed people in the United States have drawn a lot of attention and sparked mass protests in recent years, the trial in Texas resulted in a rare conviction of a police officer for killing someone who also had a gun.

Dean, a police officer in the Texas city of Fort Worth at the time of the incident, shot and killed 28-year-old Jefferson after a neighbor called a non-emergency police line saying the front door of Jefferson’s home was open.

Jefferson was playing video games with her eight-year-old nephew and had opened the door to let out the smoke from cooking a hamburger.

The trial revolved around whether Dean knew Jefferson was armed.

Jefferson had taken a gun from her purse and aimed it at the bedroom window after hearing noises. Dean and fellow officer Carol Darch did not identify themselves when they arrived at the house and Dean, suspecting a break-in, went into the fenced backyard with his gun drawn.

Body cam footage shows him yelling at Jefferson, who is inside, to show her hands, then shooting her a split second later.

Dean claimed to have seen Jefferson’s gun, but prosecutors argued the evidence showed otherwise.

Darch had his back to the window when Dean fired, but she testified that he never mentioned seeing a gun before he pulled the trigger and said nothing about the gun when they stormed in to search the house.

Dean testified that he had no choice but to shoot Jefferson for pointing a gun at him, but acknowledged numerous missteps and “poor police work” in court. He also acknowledged that he did not mention the gun and that he never gave Jefferson first aid.

The Forth Worth Police Department, where Dean was employed, quickly released footage of the shooting and arrested Dean after an outburst of public anger.

Fatal police shootings remain a persistent and controversial problem in the US, sparking protests and continued calls for serious police reform.

The 2020 police killing of George Floyd in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, sparked demonstrations around the world demanding an end to police brutality and racism.

Former officer Derek Chauvin, who held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during the fatal incident, was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison last year after being convicted of killing the unarmed 46-year-old.

The other officers involved in Floyd’s death have also received prison sentences of varying lengths for violating Floyd’s civil rights.

The fatal shooting of Jefferson took place seven months before Floyd was killed.

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