Texas: Aaron Dean convicted of manslaughter
Fort Worth, TX – A Tarrant County jury with no Black people on it convicted former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean December 15 of manslaughter for the killing of Atatiana Jefferson.
The trial relates to events on October 19, 2019, when Dean fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson in her living room after being called to the house for a welfare check. Jefferson, who was 28, was caring for her eight-year-old nephew at the time, and he witnessed the killing.
The trial now moves to the sentencing phase. The same jury that convicted Dean will decide Dean’s fate. The range of punishment is from two years to 20 years in prison, or probation.
Protesters from the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression were present outside the courthouse when the trial began on Monday, December 5. Other members of the Alliance were at the courthouse through the trial.
Olinka Greene, a community activist and member of NAARPR-Dallas, commented on the verdict: “He killed that girl. Manslaughter, that’s what you give this dude? And we expect justice from these people. We expect justice?”
Ammar Hussein, another member of the Alliance, added, “This is a very partial victory, but it is definitely a victory. In the entire history of Fort Worth, this is the first time that a police officer has been convicted of any crime for an on-duty killing. People need to remember why this is happening. Over and over we have been told that protesting will not change anything. But since the first outbreak of BLM protests in 2015, three Dallas County police officers have been sent to prison for murder, and now finally there is a conviction in Fort Worth, even if it is only manslaughter. This conviction is the fruit of all the protests for Black lives, in Fort Worth, Dallas, and around the country. Aaron Dean was tried and convicted of manslaughter only because the authorities are still running scared from the George Floyd uprising.”
NAARPR-Dallas has called for a protest on the day of sentencing at the 396th District Court in Fort Worth. As Hussein explained, “We got this far by pressure, and the pressure will keep up until we get justice.”
The trial of Dean comes after three years and at least six prior trial dates which were postponed. At the defense’s request, the judge originally assigned to the case was replaced with George Gallagher, a judge well known for an incident of excessive use of a shock belt on an inmate.