Aaron Dean is the first current or former police officer to be convicted of manslaughter for an on-the-job shooting in Tarrant County Courtesy YouTube

After 12-hour-long deliberation, the 12-member jury of Aaron Dean’s murder trial found the former Fort Worth police officer guilty of manslaughter in the death of Atatiana Jefferson, the young Black woman he fatally shot while on duty in 2019. 

During closing arguments today, prosecutor Ashlea Deener told jurors that everything about the case “demanded” finding Dean guilty of murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter. 

“The sanctity and safety of our homes have been compromised by what he did,” she said. “He took her away at 28 years old. Despite what [Dean] thought, [this case] wasn’t about a deal gone bad or a shooting.” 


During the defense attorney’s closing statements in which he portrayed Dean as acting within the norms of policing, lawyer Robert Gill told jurors that no one has the right to point a firearm at a peace officer. 

The verdict came as a surprise to many social justice locals and legal experts who have openly criticized the district attorney’s office for failing to humanize Jefferson in their prosecution of Dean or clearly articulate how he broke police protocol when he fatally shot Jefferson in response to a nonemergency call. 

Patrice Jones, a community organizer and close friend of the Jefferson family, alleges that Judge George Gallagher and prosecutors badgered Black jury candidates before last week’s trial began, a move that led to a jury with no Black members. The result marks the first time a police officer has been convicted of manslaughter for an on-the-job shooting in Tarrant County. 

Dean now faces sentencing, which could be a minimum of two years and a maximum of 20 in prison. 

“We’re glad there was a guilty verdict,” minister Crystal Bates told WFAA, “but there’s so much work to be done. How he is sentenced is going to send a message not only to him but to other law enforcement to not be so trigger-happy when you see somebody of color.”

Local lawyer Jason Smith said the jury may recommend probation if they assess a sentence of 10 years or less. 

“I have been concerned about the lack of full community representation on this jury since it was impaneled,” Smith told me. “I believe the lack of diverse representation [was due to the fact] that the jury responded by email.”

The trial and appellate lawyer said he hates predicting jury outcomes, even in his own cases, but he hopes the jury will not opt to award Dean probation. 

The Jefferson family has not yet released a public statement. Continue to follow us for updates.