Ex-police officer Aaron Dean has been sentenced to over 11 years in prison for the fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson, according to an ABC News report. The sentencing comes four years after the incident and a series of delays to the trial. Dean could’ve gotten more time is convicted of a harsher murder charge.
Dean will spend the next 11 years, 10 months and 12 days in prison. The report says because his sentence extends beyond 10 years, he’s not eligible for probation.
A number of witnesses brought the jury to their decision including a psychologist who said Dean was mentally unfit for police work, a woman who accused Dean of sexual assault in 2004 and Dean’s colleague who confirmed Dean did not mention sight of a gun the night of the incident. The defense countered that with the testimonies of a few of Dean’s churchgoers to convince the jury he was “upright” and “noble.”
Dean took the stand himself insisting he was staring down the barrel of Jefferson’s gun, scared for his life. Turns out that wasn’t enough to justify the shooting and killing of an innocent woman.
Read the testimonies from Jefferson’s family via NBC News:
Adarius Carr, Jefferson’s oldest brother, testified that his sister was a caring woman, who moved back home to Fort Worth and cared for her nephew because the boy’s mother and grandmother were both in the hospital with heart problems.
Carr said Jefferson was always a “flawless” student and dreamed of becoming a doctor after she had been diagnosed with diabetes in her pre-teens.
Jefferson’s sister, Ashley Carr, called her “a beautiful flower just starting to bloom,” as she delivered a victim impact statement after the sentence was announced. “My sister did not do anything wrong,” Carr said. “She was in her home, which should have been the safest place for her to be.”
The jury deliberated for 13 hours to come up with the manslaughter verdict. A felony murder charge, which he faced initially, would have sent Dean to prison for life with a $10,000 fine on top of that, per NBC News.
This victory is reassuring that some cops could face real accountability for their actions. Look at George Floyd’s killers. But, it’s also bittersweet given there are so many more victims of police brutality whose killers still walk free.