FORT WORTH, Texas – In another tragic case that is having a chilling impact on the law enforcement community, Aaron Dean, the former Fort Worth police officer found guilty of manslaughter in the 2019 shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson last week, was sentenced Tuesday to nearly 12 years in prison. The exact sentence is 11 years, 10 months and 12 days, which prosecutors believe has symbolic value.
Dean shot Jefferson in her home on Oct. 12, 2019 believing she was an armed intruder after a neighbor called police to report that the front door to the woman’s home was open. While investigating the call of an open door, Dean entered the backyard. When he peered through a window he saw a silhouette of a person and the barrel of a gun, NBC DFW reported.
Dean fired once, fatally wounding the woman on the other side of the glass. Naturally, in the ongoing battle of race politics, people have emphasized the fact that Dean is white and Jefferson was black.
Police would soon discover the woman was home with her 8-year-old nephew playing video games. They left the door open to vent the house after burning some hamburgers. According to Jefferson’s nephew, she grabbed her gun when she got up to investigate a noise she heard outside. Moments later she was shot.
Although prosecutors sought a murder conviction, the Tarrant County jury found the former officer guilty of manslaughter last week. With the manslaughter conviction, Dean faced a maximum of 20 years in prison instead of life, according to NBC DFW.
After two days of deliberations, the jury sentenced the former police officer to 11 years, 10 months and 12 days, an amount of time that appears to be symbolic.
Prosecutors Dale Smith and Ashlea Deener believe there is some significance to the length of time imposed by the jury. The 10 months and 12 days, they believed, represented the month and date Jefferson was killed. The 11 years, they speculated, represented the current age of Zion Carr, the nephew of Jefferson who witnessed her death, NBC DFW reported.
“I do not know if that was the message that the jury intended to send but that is what we assumed when we heard those numbers,” Smith said.