By William Melhado
Originally appeared in the Texas Tribune
A jury on Thursday found Aaron Dean guilty of manslaughter for shooting Jefferson while she babysat her nephew in her mother’s home in 2019.
In a press conference two days after the shooting, Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus apologized to Jefferson’s family and the Fort Worth community.
“Had the officer not resigned, I would have fired him for violations of several policies including our use-of-force policy, our de-escalation policy and unprofessional conduct,” Kraus said at the October 2019 press conference.
Jefferson’s 8-year-old nephew was in the room at the time she was killed. They had stayed up late playing video games. Now 11, he testified during the murder trial this week. When asked what he thought after seeing his aunt was shot, the nephew said, “I was thinking, is it a dream?”
Dean and Carol Darch, another Fort Worth police officer, responded to Jefferson’s mother’s home after a neighbor called a nonemergency police line requesting a wellness check because she noticed the woman’s door was open, something he found unusual.
However, the police chief said the officers responded to what he described as an “open structure call,” which is different from the procedure for a wellness check.
According to Kraus, this kind of call includes officers parking away from the house and approaching with caution, whereas a wellness check would have begun with a knock on the door. It’s not clear why the officers responded with an open structure call rather than a wellness check.
In his testimony, Dean said he believed there was a burglary at the home and while he was in the backyard he saw a gun pointed at him.
According to The Dallas Morning News, footage from Dean’s body camera shows him walk to the back of the house, then turn toward a window. He yelled at Jefferson — “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” — then shot her through the window in seconds.