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Former Texas officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson testifies that he saw a gun ‘pointed’ at him before shooting

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A former Texas officer who fatally shot a black woman through a window of her home in 2019 testified Monday that he believed a burglary was in progress and saw a gun pointed at him, but admitted later errors in his police work that day and said he did not tell his partner he saw a gun after the shooting and during the search of the house.

Aaron Dean, a white former Fort Worth police officer, is on trial for the murder of Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old black woman who played video games at home with her 8-year-old nephew before being shot. death. Dean shot and killed Jefferson as he responded to his home after a concerned neighbor called a non-emergency line around 2 a.m. in October 2019 to say he had noticed an open front door.

Atatiana Jefferson.Family photo via NBC Dallas-Fort Worth

Dean spoke up in his own defense Monday morning, saying he thought he was reacting to the scene of a burglary after seeing the house’s interior door open and items “strewn on the floor” inside. He said he entered Jefferson’s garden through a fence with his partner and approached the house, when he saw the silhouette of a person inside the house near a window.

“I thought we had a burglar so I backed up, straightened up and took out my gun, then pointed it at the figure,” he said.

He said he couldn’t see the person’s hands and started yelling at Jefferson to put his hands up, then saw a gun.

“I just look at the barrel of the gun and when I saw the barrel of this gun pointed at me, I fired a single shot with my service weapon,” he said.

Dean said that after firing he was briefly blinded by a muzzle flash. “When my vision cleared – he said – then I watched the person we now know to be Miss Jefferson. I heard her scream and then I saw her fall.”

When asked by his lawyer why he shot through the window as quickly as he did, Dean said: “We are taught to meet deadly force with deadly force. We are not taught that we must expect.”

During cross-examination, however, prosecutor R. Dale Smith questioned Dean’s account of what he saw through the window, asking how Jefferson was positioned and where he saw a gun before he fired. Smith asked Dean if he had enough information and time to film the house when only 1 minute and 17 seconds passed from when he turned on his camera, approached the house and shot Jefferson.

Dean conceded that he “never really saw [Jefferson’s] hands,” but said he saw a gun.

“You couldn’t tell if he was in the up position, ready to fire,” Smith asked.

“No,” Dean replied.

Former Texas officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson testifies that he saw a gun 'pointed' at him before shooting

Dean also acknowledged that he did not announce himself as a police officer when he arrived, saying he believed there was an active burglary at the scene and that it was “general practice” at the police department of do not advertise in such situations. He later admitted under questioning by Smith that he had made such announcements at at least one other burglary scene before.

Prosecutors also reviewed a series of Dean’s actions that night and the choices he made, repeatedly asking the former officer if his actions amounted to “good police work,” Dean repeatedly answering “no”.

Among those actions, he admitted to not telling his partner he saw a gun or weapon immediately after shooting Jefferson or when they entered her home after the shooting.

The 2019 Jefferson shooting drew widespread criticism and prompted calls for police accountability and racial justice in law enforcement.

Dean, who resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department before his arrest, was indicted by a Texas grand jury in December 2019 for murder.

Jefferson graduated from Xavier University in Louisiana with a degree in chemistry. She returned home from college to help her family with health issues and planned to go to medical school.

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