Act Daily News
The former Fort Worth police officer charged with homicide for the 2019 taking pictures of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson in her own residence testified Monday he fired at her as a result of she pointed a gun at him.
“As I started to get that second phrase out, ‘Show me your hands,’ I saw a silhouette,” the previous officer, 38-year-old Aaron Dean, mentioned. “I was looking right down the barrel of a gun, and when I saw the barrel of that gun pointed at me, I fired a single shot from my duty weapon.”
Dean mentioned he had his weapon out as a result of he believed the house was within the midst of being robbed. He fired at her via the window “because we’re taught to meet deadly force with deadly force. We’re not taught that we have to wait,” he mentioned.
Yet in cross-examination, he admitted a lot of his actions that evening have been “bad police work,” together with firing with out seeing her arms or what was behind her, failing to inform his companion he noticed a gun and dashing into the house with out absolutely making certain it was protected.
“You’ve got another fellow officer from the Fort Worth Police Department entering a home which you have determined to be a burglary in progress with a possible armed assailant, and you didn’t think to tell your partner, ‘Hey there’s a gun inside?’” prosecutor R. Dale Smith requested.
“No,” Dean mentioned.
“You didn’t think to tell her, ‘Hey I saw somebody with a gun?’” Smith requested.
“No,” he mentioned.
His testimony is prone to be pivotal within the trial, which started final week and has already featured body-camera footage of the taking pictures and testimony from the first witnesses, Jefferson’s 11-year-old nephew and Dean’s police companion Carol Darch. The prosecution rested its case after three days of testimony.
Woman shot and killed by police officer in her own residence
The testimony comes greater than three years after Dean and his companion responded to Jefferson’s home round 2:25 a.m. on an October evening in response to a neighbor calling a nonemergency police line to notice her doorways have been open.
The officers didn’t at any level determine themselves as police when scoping out the house, and Dean then shot right into a again window at Jefferson, who was up late taking part in video video games along with her younger nephew.
Heavily edited physique digicam footage launched to the general public confirmed an officer peering via two open doorways, however he didn’t knock or announce his presence. Instead, he walked round the home for a few minute. Eventually, the officer approached a window and shined a flashlight into what gave the impression to be a darkish room.
“Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” the officer yelled earlier than firing a single shot, based on the physique digicam footage.
Dean, who’s White, resigned days afterward and was arrested and charged with homicide for killing Jefferson, who’s Black. He has pleaded not responsible to homicide, a cost which carries a attainable sentence of 5 to 99 years.
His protection has mentioned he fired in self-defense, however prosecutors argued there isn’t a proof he noticed a gun in her hand earlier than firing.
On Monday, Dean testified he and his companion arrived to the scene and approached the house quietly as a result of they believed it was within the midst of a housebreaking. They parked at a close-by residence and didn’t announce themselves as police when approaching.
When they have been within the residence’s yard, Dean mentioned he noticed the silhouette of an individual within the window. He thought the particular person was a burglar and shouted out instructions for the particular person to indicate their arms. Dean mentioned he couldn’t determine the gender or race of the particular person within the window.
Dean described the silhouette as being “bent over” dealing with the window with higher arm motion.
He grew emotional on the stand as he spoke concerning the moments after he shot Jefferson.
“I observed the person that we now know is Ms. Jefferson. I heard her scream and saw her fall like this,” Dean mentioned, gesturing in a downward movement. “And I knew that I’d shot that person.”
He mentioned after firing the shot, he tried opening the window to render support however couldn’t get it open, so that they ran round to the entrance door and entered the house. He and Darch went into the bed room and noticed a baby there.
“I’m thinking, who brings a kid to a burglary? What is going on?” Dean mentioned.
He testified he discovered a firearm between Jefferson’s toes and observed it had a inexperienced laser connected to it. Body-camera footage reveals he audibly exhaled at that second. “I was thinking that’s how close we came to dying,” he testified.
In a confrontational cross-examination, Smith, the prosecutor, walked via every of Dean’s actions that evening and repeatedly requested him, “Is that good police work?”
Dean acknowledged a lot of his actions weren’t. In specific, he acknowledged he couldn’t inform whether or not the gun was raised ready prepared to fireplace, solely that he noticed the barrel of the gun and determined to shoot.
“Once you saw the barrel of the gun, you decided to pull the trigger and take who was on the other side of that window’s life?” the prosecutor mentioned.
“Yes,” Dean mentioned.
Smith went step-by-step via Dean’s physique digicam footage, exhibiting a number of missteps Dean and his companion took whereas surrounding Jefferson’s residence. Dean admitted he didn’t safe exits for a possible burglar, didn’t name for backup and didn’t administer CPR to Jefferson.
Still, he gave himself an general grade of “B” on an A-to-F scale for his actions earlier than he pulled the set off.
“I’m sure there are things we could have done better,” he mentioned.
In opening statements, prosecutors acknowledged Jefferson had a firearm however mentioned there was no proof Dean noticed the weapon in her hand earlier than firing at her.
“This is not a circumstance where they’re staring at the barrel of a gun and he had to defend himself against that person or to protect his partner,” Tarrant County prosecutor Ashlea Deener mentioned. “The evidence will support he did not see the gun in her hand. This is not a justification. This is not a self-defense case. This is murder.”
Yet Dean’s protection lawyer mentioned the previous officer had seen an armed silhouette with a inexperienced laser pointed at him earlier than firing.
“In that window he sees a silhouette,” lawyer Miles Brissette mentioned. “He doesn’t know if it’s a male or female, he doesn’t know the racial makeup of the silhouette. He sees it, he sees the green laser and the gun come up on him. He takes a half-step back, gives a command and fires his weapon.”
The prosecution’s first witness was Zion Carr, who was 8 years outdated and within the bed room along with his “Aunt Tay” when she was shot. Now 11, he testified that they had by accident burned hamburgers earlier within the evening, so that they opened the doorways to air the smoke out of the home.
He and his aunt have been up late taking part in video video games when Jefferson heard a noise exterior, and she or he then went to her purse to get her gun, he testified. He didn’t see her elevate her firearm towards the window, he testified.
Zion mentioned he didn’t hear or see something exterior the window, however he noticed his aunt fall to the bottom and begin crying.
“I was thinking, ‘Is it a dream?’” he testified. “She was crying and just shaking.”
Prosecutors additionally known as to the stand Dean’s police companion Carol Darch, who testified she was with Dean after they went to research the house.
She mentioned she believed the house was being burglarized as a result of two doorways have been open, lights have been on inside, cupboards have been vast open and issues have been strewn about the lounge and kitchen space.
She had her again to the window when Dean started to yell out instructions for Jefferson to place her arms up, she testified. Darch mentioned she began to show round, heard a gunshot, then seemed over Dean’s shoulder and will see a face within the window with eyes “as big as saucers.”
She testified she didn’t see Jefferson holding a gun and doesn’t recall Dean ever saying Jefferson had a gun.
An lawyer for Jefferson’s household mentioned she was attempting to guard her nephew from what they each thought was a prowler. She had moved into her ailing mom’s Fort Worth residence just a few months earlier to care for her, household lawyer S. Lee Merritt mentioned on the time. She additionally took care of her nephews.
Jefferson graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2014 with a level in biology and labored in pharmaceutical gear gross sales, based on her household’s lawyer.