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Former US police officer gets nearly 12 years for fatal shooting

The former officer was found guilty of manslaughter for fatally shooting 28-year-old black woman Atatiana Jefferson in her Texas home.

A former police officer in the southern US state of Texas was sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison for fatally shooting a black woman named Atatiana Jefferson through the rear window of her home in 2019 after enter your property without notice.

On Tuesday, a jury sentenced Aaron Dean, 38, to 11 years and 10 months in prison after convicting Dean of manslaughter last Thursday. He had faced a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

“Today’s guilty verdict is one small step in bringing justice to Atatiana Jefferson and her family,” US Congressman Marc Veasey, who represents a Texas district, said in a post-conviction statement last week.

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“This verdict underscores the important work that must be done at the local and national levels to ensure that a tragedy like this does not happen again.”

While police killings of unarmed people in the United States have drawn a lot of attention in recent years and sparked mass protests, the Texas trial led to a bizarre conviction of a police officer for killing someone who also had a gun. .

Dean, a police officer for the city of Fort Worth in Texas at the time of the incident, fatally shot 28-year-old Jefferson after a neighbor called a non-emergency police line and said the door Jefferson’s main house was open.

Jefferson had been playing video games with his eight-year-old nephew and had opened the door to let out smoke from cooking a hamburger.

In Texas, a US state with strong support for gun ownership, it’s not uncommon for someone to have a gun in their home, and when the police don’t announce themselves, people sometimes mistake them for armed intruders.

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The trial revolved around whether Dean knew that Jefferson was armed.

Jefferson pulled a gun from her bag and pointed it at the bedroom window after hearing noises. Dean and his fellow officer Carol Darch did not identify themselves when they arrived at the house and Dean, suspecting a burglary, moved into the fenced-in backyard with his gun drawn.

Body camera footage shows him yelling at Jefferson, who is inside, to show him his hands, then shooting him a split second later.

Dean claimed that he had seen Jefferson’s gun, but prosecutors argued that the evidence proved otherwise.

Darch had his back to the window when Dean fired, but testified that he never mentioned seeing a gun before pulling the trigger and said nothing about the gun as they rushed through the house.

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Dean testified that he had no choice but to shoot Jefferson because she was pointing a gun at him, but he acknowledged numerous missteps and “poor police work” in court. He also acknowledged that she had not mentioned the gun and that she never gave Jefferson first aid.

The Fort Worth Police Department, where Dean worked, quickly released footage of the shooting and arrested Dean following a wave of public anger.

Fatal police shootings remain a persistent and contentious issue in the US, prompting protests and continued calls for serious police reform.

The police murder of George Floyd in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2020 sparked demonstrations around the world to demand an end to police violence and racism.

Former officer Derek Chauvin, who kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during the fatal incident, was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison last year after being found guilty of killing the unarmed 46-year-old man. .

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The other officers involved in Floyd’s death have also received prison sentences of varying length for violating Floyd’s civil rights.

Jefferson’s fatal shooting took place seven months before Floyd was killed.

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