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Trial Date Set for Former Police Officer Who Shot and Killed Texas Woman Atatiana Jefferson

Aaron Dean booking photo, and Atatiana Jefferson funeral

Aaron Dean booking photo, and Atatiana Jefferson’s funeral.

UPDATE: the trial start date has been moved to Jan. 4.

The former Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed a Black woman in her mother’s home back in October 2019 now has a start date for his murder trial.

Aaron Dean, 36, will face jurors Nov. 16 in Tarrant County, Texas, according to KSAT. He is charged with shooting Atatiana Jefferson, 28, in a botched welfare call in Fort Worth.

James Smith, who was neighbors with the homeowner Yolanda Carr, told the BBC in a 2020 report that he called police to perform a welfare check after his niece and nephew saw that the lights of her home were on and the front door was open on the early morning of Oct. 12, 2019. He thought that it was strange that Carr’s lawnmower and gardening equipment were plugged in. This was not an emergency call. Smith said he expected an officer to just knock on the door and see if his neighbor was fine. He did not know that Carr was in the hospital for her heart condition. Instead, Carr’s 8-year-old grandson and daughter Atatiana were up playing video games.

As seen on Dean’s body cam footage, he checked an open door and walked along the side of the lit home. Finally, he stepped through a gate leading into what seemed to be the backyard. He pointed his gun at a window.

“Put your hands up,” he yelled. “Show me your hands.”

He opened fire, killing Jefferson, who was inside the home.

Smith was among those mourning Jefferson’s loss. He said that police overreacted.

“She intended to become a doctor,” Smith said. “But that’s not going to happen now.”

[Warning: the video is disturbing]

Dean quit the department two days after the shooting, though Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said he would have fired him for violating policies including use of force, de-escalation, and unprofessional conduct.

Police said that Jefferson had a gun and claimed she “pointed it toward the window.”

“The gun is irrelevant,” Mayor Betsy Price said in 2019, according to ABC News. “She was in her own home caring for her 8-year old nephew. Atatiana was a victim.”

Jefferson’s family has sued separately for wrongful death and the trauma that her 8-year-old nephew suffered. Carr died in January 2020 of congestive heart failure.

[Dean booking photo via Tarrant County Jail; picture from Jefferson’s funeral via Stewart F. House/Getty Images]

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