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Fort Worth: Trial for Officer Who Killed Atatiana Jefferson Delayed Again, Residents of Her Neighborhood Share Thoughts

By Nélida Tello

Texas judge David Hagerman has once again delayed the trial against Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean who shot and killed a Black woman, Atatiana Jefferson, while she was inside her home on October 12, 2019. The murder trial was set for January 10; however, due the unavailability of expert witnesses, Judge Hagerman approved the defense’s motion to delay the trial. The trial will now commence on May 16, 2022, three years after Jefferson’s death. Dean’s defense has also filed a motion to move the trial from Tarrant County, which is still under review.

Atatiana Jefferson, then 28, was shot and killed while sitting inside her home by former police officer Aaron Dean in 2019. Dean responded to a wellness check to Jefferson’s house after a neighbor saw her door ajar. Without announcing himself as an officer, Dean fired through a back window after seeing a shadow through the window, ultimately murdering Jefferson. In the police body camera footage, Dean yells, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands.”

Atatiana Jefferson

At the time, Jefferson was playing video games with her eight-year-old nephew. Upon hearing someone in the backyard, Jefferson grabbed a gun in self-defense. Dean resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department two days after the shooting, and in December of that year, he was indicted for murder.

Tribune of the People spoke to three residents in the predominantly Black neighborhood in Fort Worth where Jefferson lived regarding the delayed trial.

One resident named Bill told Tribune that the officer “had such little regard that he shot someone that he couldn’t see. He saw the frame and the shadow and he shot the shadow. He didn’t give a damn who it was behind there, he just shot, and in all probability, it was a Black person.”

In response to the defense’s motion to move the trial out of Tarrant County, one woman told Tribune: “That’s why he’s gotten so much time, because he’s been pushing for it to be out of Tarrant County.” Bill added “They said they don’t want to have [the trial] here in County because there are too many harsh feelings.”

Anthony, who grew up in Fort Worth, told Tribune, “I was born and raised into a racist society. I didn’t make this world how it is. Racism is taught, it’s learned behavior. … When it comes to police, as a Black man, I don’t trust white police officers, and I’m definitely not going to call them to come into my neighborhood to do a wellness check for my neighbor.” He continued, “I always thought of the police as someone who was to come to a situation and save your life pretty much. Kind of like a Superman type. But as I got older, I realized that the police in our community—that’s not the description that they fit. They [are] more like the villain.”

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