Trial of ex-Fort Worth police officer in shooting opens with no Black jurors

Dec. 5 (UPI) -- In the brief opening day of testimony in the case involving ex-Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean, prosecutors called his 2019 shooting of Atatiana Jefferson murder while a person in the gallery was removed for gesturing to a young witness.

Both sides gave opening statements and the nephew of Jefferson, 11-year-old Zion Carr was cross-examined before court ended for the day. Carr was with Jefferson inside her mother's home in Fort Worth, Texas, when Dean, standing outside, shot through a window and killed her.


The shooting sparked racial justice protests in the Black community in Fort Worth. Dean is White and Jefferson was Black.

"After you look at all of the evidence in this case, you will be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that this is murder," Tarrant County prosecutor Ashlea Deener said in her opening statement. "You're gonna know that this is not self-defense."

Dean's defense attorney Miles Brissette said his client was doing his job when he arrived at Jefferson's mother's home on a welfare check and called the shooting a "tragic accident."


"It's an officer's worst nightmare around the world to have to draw their weapon and use it for themselves or for others," Brissette said. "This case is about facts and not emotions.

Brissette said Dean feared for his life when he saw Jefferson inside the home with the gun.

"Everyone in Texas, everyone in the United States has the right to defend themselves in their home," Brissette said. "This is a tragic accident. Tragically, Ms. Jefferson lost her life."

Before ending for the day, Tarrant County District Judge George Gallagher removed a gallery member who he found gesturing to Carr during the youth's testimony while under cross-examination from Dean's attorney. He made the gallery member a witness which forced him to leave the courtroom during testimony.

Fort Worth Police admitted that neither Dean nor his partner ever identified themselves as police officers before the shooting. The officer's body camera video showed him firing within seconds of seeing Jefferson in the window.

The case sparked protests within the Black community locally but out of 200 potential jurors and two alternates, no Black jurors were selected.

Dean's lead counsel Jim Laine died the day before jury selection started. The court said it will work a half-day on Monday to allow people to attend Lane's funeral that afternoon.


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