Trial begins for officer charged in fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson

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(DALLAS) — The trial of now-former police officer Aaron Dean in the 2019 fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson began Monday after several delays.

Jury selection began Monday with Judge George Gallagher saying he hoped 12 jurors and two alternates would be in place by Friday.

There were concerns the trial would be delayed again after Dean’s lead attorney, Jim Lane, reportedly died Sunday morning, according to Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV, just one day before the jury selection in the case was set to begin. Lane had been ill and two other lawyers took over as lead attorneys in May, according to WFAA.

Dean is charged with murder in the death of Jefferson, a Black woman who was allegedly fatally shot by Dean inside her Fort Worth, Texas, home on Oct. 12.

The department said that police received a call just before 2:30 a.m. to respond to her home on East Allen Avenue.

Two officers arrived at the house shortly after and parked near Jefferson’s home, but not in front of the residence, according to officials.

The front door appears open in the body-camera footage, but a screen door looks to be closed in front of it. The officer doesn’t appear to knock.

Officials said the officers walked around the back of the house and that one of the officers observed a person through the rear window of the home and opened fire.

Fort Worth Police Lt. Brandon O’Neil said the officer who opened fire on Jefferson never identified himself as a police officer.

Body camera footage released by the department shows the officer approaching a rear window of the home with his gun drawn. The officer sees the woman through the window, shouts, “Put your hands up, show me your hands,” and fires one shot.

The video seems to confirm the officer never identified himself as police before he opened fire.

Jefferson’s 8-year-old nephew, who witnessed his aunt being fatally shot that morning, told investigators she had retrieved a handgun from her purse and pointed it toward a window when she was killed, according to an arrest warrant issued for the officer.

Police officials said Jefferson was within her rights to protect herself and her nephew when she heard noises in her backyard and went to the window to investigate. Jefferson was playing video games with her nephew when she went to investigate the noise, according to the arrest warrant.

Dean’s lawyers asked the judge to move the location of the trial Monday due to its high-profile nature, but Gallagher said he would not yet rule on the motion.

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