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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

No Black Jurors Selected in Aaron Dean Murder Trial [Update]

Atatiana Jefferson's 11-year-old nephew testified at the officer’s trial.

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Former Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean attends the first day of his murder trial on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. Dean is accused of fatally shooting Atatiana Jefferson in 2019 during a police call.
Former Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean attends the first day of his murder trial on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. Dean is accused of fatally shooting Atatiana Jefferson in 2019 during a police call.
Photo: Amanda McCoy/Star-Telegram (AP)

Updated as of 12/6/2022 at 11:30 a.m. ET

Former Texas police officer Aaron Dean is headed into day two of his murder trial for the fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson in 2019, per The Associated Press. As the course of his trial progresses, it’s important to note that a district judge agreed to the selection of 12 jurors, none of whom were Black, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Despite Jefferson’s murder being an example of police brutality and potentially racial bias, no Black person can have a say in whether that’s what it was. District Judge George Gallagher agreed to the final selection of the jury after narrowing down the pool of 200 through a 25-page questionnaire and individual questioning. The examination had to be extensive given the widespread coverage of the case.

Atatiana’s family is relieved a jury has been selected after over 3 years of waiting but disappointed that not a single black juror was selected to serve,” civil rights attorney Lee Merritt said via the Star-Telegram.

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On day one of the trial, Dean’s attorney argued he saw Jefferson pointing a gun at him from inside her home. However, Jefferson’s nephew, the last person who saw her alive, may have invalidated that argument in his testimony.

Jefferson was playing video games with her nephew Zion Carr, who was eight years old at the time, when she heard suspicious noises behind her house, reports say. She pulled her gun as she went to scope out the area. Per the bodycam footage, Dean and another responding officer were walking around the back of her house, unannounced, when Dean caught a glimpse of Jefferson with the firearm and shot at her through the glass.

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In court Monday, Carr denied for the second time that Jefferson raised the gun. The defense argued he originally told detectives the gun was raised but he denied that statement on the stand. Assistant District Attorney Ashlea Deener suggested Jefferson may have believed Dean and his colleague were intruders, similar to how Kenneth Walker believed the officers who killed Breonna Taylor were breaking into his home too.

Based on the pre-trial hearings, the odds aren’t looking too good for Dean given the judge rejected his team’s requests to change the venue of the case.

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Read more about it from CBS News:

Dean’s attorneys are arguing that press releases and media briefings from influential people, including the city’s longest serving mayor Betsy Price, and former chief Ed Kraus, could have poisoned the local jury pool. They particularly keyed in on what details Price and Kraus knew about the evidence in the case, and the statements of eyewitnesses when Atatiana Jefferson was shot at killed.

Robert Huseman, a former assistant district attorney for Tarrant County who said he usually handled officer involved shootings, testified that while he originally was called to the scene the night of the shooting, he later found himself off the case.

While standard practice in officer involved shootings was to present evidence to a grand jury, he said, without a recommendation on issuing an indictment, in this case an arrest warrant for Dean was issued within days. Huseman said that broke years of protocol in the office, and that a police detective was visibly upset he was asked to obtain an arrest warrant at the time.