Trial For Ex-Fort Worth Police Officer Who Shot and Killed Atatiana Jefferson Has No Black Jurors
The jury selection is complete for the trial of ex-Forth Worth, Texas police officer Aaron Dean, and no Black jurors were selected, according to WFAA News. Dean shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson on Oct. 12, 2019, inside her home.
Body camera footage showed Dean, who is white, shoot and kill 28-year-old Jefferson, who was Black, in her home after a neighbor called the police to say Jefferson’s front door was wide open.
Jefferson was upstairs playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew, Zion Carr. Dean and another officer arrived on the scene around 2:25 a.m. to find the front door wide open but the screen door closed. As the officers moved around her backyard, Carr said that Jefferson heard noises outside and grabbed her handgun from her purse.
The graphic body camera footage showed Dean pointing his gun at Jefferson through the window as he yelled, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” He immediately began firing without advising Jefferson he was a police officer or giving her a chance to lower her weapon. Dean was arrested a few days later and charged with murder.
At least 200 people were randomly selected as potential jurors but dozens were excused due to scheduling conflicts or because the judge deemed them to be biased. The jury consisting of six women and eight men is majority-white and does contain several minorities. However, none of them are Black. According to WFAA News, several jurors said they could not convict Dean for doing his job.
“I am sick and tired about the way police officers are treated and how they do their jobs,” said one. “You could present your case but I am not going to be unbiased. I couldn’t convict any law enforcement of murder while involved in a shooting because they are doing their jobs and trying to come home to their families.”
Fort Worth community leader Cory Session the outlet that the jury’s makeup was concerning.
“It’s just mind-boggling that this would happen at this date and time given the circumstances,” said Session.
“If he’s found not guilty of the charges, race will be brought up and it could be a bad day for the city of Fort Worth and race relations. But the people who are the custodians of the judicial process are the ones who should answer for how this jury pool ended up this way.”
Judge George Gallagher said that Dean told the court he wants the jury to decide his sentence if he is convicted. Dean’s lawyers filed a request for probation should he be convicted of murdering Jefferson.
The trial is expected to last for about two weeks. Opening statements for the trial are scheduled to begin on Dec. 5 at 9 a.m.