The Police Officer Who Killed Atatiana Jefferson in Her Own Home Is Indicted for Murder

Body camera footage captured Aaron Dean fatally shooting Atatiana Jefferson without announcing that he was a police officer.


Former Texas police officer Aaron Dean has been indicted for the murder of Atatiana Jefferson.

As Reason reported in October, Jefferson was watching her nephew at home when a neighbor noticed that her doors were open and the lights turned on. The neighbor asked emergency services to conduct a welfare check. By the time Dean and another officer with the Fort Worth Police Department responded, the simple welfare check was logged as a burglary call. Body camera footage shows the two officers circling the house without identifying themselves. Dean then catches a glimpse of Jefferson in the window and shouts, "Put your hands up! Show me your hands!" He then shoots her fatally in her own home.

On Friday, a Tarrant County grand jury indicted Dean for murder. The trial date is pending.

In a press conference following Jefferson's death, Chief Edwin Kraus said that Dean resigned from the force the same day the department planned to fire him. Kraus also said there would be an investigation and a third-party review of the department's policies and training practices.

The city apologized in the same press conference for including a blurry still of a gun in the body camera footage released to the public. "The gun is irrelevant," Mayor Betsy Price said at the time. "She was in her own home caring for an 8-year-old nephew. [Jefferson] was a victim."

NEXT: A 15-Year Sentence for Burning a Stolen Gay Pride Flag Is Not Justice

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Definitely a lack of respect here when the peasants have a duty to bow before the King. It is not the King’s duty to identify himself as their King, the peasants are expected to know these things. Do you think Queen Elizabeth goes around door-to-door introducing herself to her subjects? I can assure you she does not, and yet her subjects are still expected to show her the proper respect.

    1. Does that also apply to peasants who reside in their own castles?

      1. Stop paying property taxes rent to your local government and then tell me who owns your “castle.”

        1. There has been a weak trend of late, it seems to the naive, so stop suspending driver licenses for unpaid parking tickets etc, on the grounds that the punishment exceeds the crime, and/or that the punishment is unrelated to the crime.

          Maybe this trend will continue to not paying property taxes, and the punishment will simply be owing money like any other unpaid bill.

          1. Tell that to the city that seized a guy’s home over $8 and change in back property taxes.

            1. Doubt it that’s where Sheriffs get their money.

        2. Note taken.

  2. No good deed goes unpunished!

  3. Charge him with a crime he’ll never in a million years be convicted of so that you can pretend you did something. This guy will be collecting disability insurance the day after the trial ends.

    1. That actually sounds like a pretty good analysis.

      The end result was that she was murdered in her own home. But the officer’s facts and knowledge and training all enter into it as well.

      Fatal errors were made, but jumping to murder instead of something like negligent homicide means you have a high bar and perhaps a jury looking for reasons to acquit because of that.

    2. Texas state law provides that the jury can convict of a lesser homicide charge if all the elements of “murder” are not proved. Texas doesn’t have separate “First Degree”, “Second Degree” etc but even if charged with murder the jury can still find guilty on a lesser charge equivalent to what would be called manslaughter or negligent homicide in other states. And they will be so instructed.

      1. From what I have read, that is how homicide charges are handled in Texas. Even if a premediated criminal homicide with malice aforethought charge is not proven in the trial, the jury can convict on a lesser degree of criminal homicide, or reckless or negligent manslaughter.

        But what most people (including national news reporters) know about law is gained from watching Law and Order on television — New York City law where a criminal trial starts in the Supreme Court (there are courts of appeal above the Supreme Court in Law and Order country).

        If you are involved in an out-of-state case, in any state no matter what your state of origin, retain a local attorney familiar with local law, local judges, local police, local prosecutors. I am not a lawyer, and this advice is worth every penny I charge for it.

  4. The city apologized in the same press conference for including a blurry still of a gun in the body camera footage released to the public. “The gun is irrelevant,” Mayor Betsy Price said at the time. “She was in her own home caring for an 8-year-old nephew. [Jefferson] was a victim.”

    If we had common sense gun control then she wouldn’t have had a gun and she wouldn’t have been shot! Blame the NRA!

    1. Unless they mistook her cell phone for a gun. Or thought she was reaching for her empty waistband.

      1. You mean that waistband that is inconveniently located between where the hands hang down and where they have to go raise them over their heads so everyone who raises their hands is “reaching” for their waistband?

        1. Yep, that waistband.

    2. Watch the video on the previous Reason report from October. I could see movement in the window blinds, but the impression I got was the cop was shooting blindly into a house late at night because someone looked outside with a flashlight. He shot in less than 2 seconds after seeing any movement was my impression. There would be no way she’d know it was the police with the flashlight pointing at her.

      The cops should have rang the bell if you ask me, and why didn’t the police call the house to being with? I’d say it’s almost criminal to hire a cop either so scared or trigger happy this would happen.

      1. I wasn’t clear. The lady likely saw the cop’s flashlight which caused her to look outside. She didn’t have a flashlight. I wish Reason had an edit button.

  5. Reason and their sockpuppets: “we’re not a newspaper and we don’t cover shit that’s too local.”

    Also Reason and their sockpuppets, a couple of hours later: “yet another racist white cop killed an unarmed black man in East Bumfuck Louisiana today.”

    1. Also Reason, “but don’t ask us about the one that happened in South Bend, because we really love us some Pete Buttplug.”

  6. So he was employed by the taxpayers to verify that she was all right, and assist her if she needed help.
    And he goes and murderers her.
    Yeah, that sounds about like government work of ‘hero’ quality.

    1. Hunter calls 911:

      Hunter: “Oh my god. Oh my god. I accidentally shot my friend.”

      Dispatcher: “Calm down sir. First, Make sure your friend is dead.

      [Sound of gunshot]

      Hunter: “Okay, he’s dead.”

  7. Good. Fuck him. The electric chair is too good for him. A lifetime in pound-him-in-the-ass prison taking hot dicks to the throat sounds about right. I can hear Bubba, Billy Bob, Rufus, and Jethro cracking their knuckles and cackling with glee already.

    1. I can’t say I’d wish that on a prisoner, but if he’s convicted I hope the *sentence* is stiff.

    2. I would not wish it on a prisoner either, and it frankly bothers me that it’s frequently dismissed as a joke or seen as a normal part of the punishment of incarceration.

      That said, we are talking about someone who no doubt has plenty of natural talent as a bully and who was then trained and honed as a professional bully. I have a feeling he is far more likely to be victimizing other prisoners (especially some young dumb guy’s in there for selling joints or using insider stock tips) than he is to be victimized himself. We are talking about a brutal, violent person after all, one who has been praised all his life for being that way.

      1. Considering that I first heard jailhouse rape gleefully cited as proper punishment for an 18 y.o. having an affair with his 17 y.o. high school sweetheart*, I wish that everyone who thinks jailhouse rape is a joking matter deserves to be falsely accused of a crime for which jailhouse rape is considered (by them) to be a cruel but usual and just punishment.

        But I would not justify jailhouse rape even for Harvey Weinstein. (I have called for dragging his casting couch out in the public square and burning it — with him strapped in it.) #StopJailhouseRape.

        * (the mother supported the affair as rebellion against her overly controlling husband, who brought charges of statutory rape against the 18 y.o.)

  8. For bank Auction Properties in India, please follow –

  9. So if had yelled “police” as he pulled the trigger, ass would have been well?
    And what of the deadly errors committed in the communication? More training or what?

    1. Agree as you state that uttering ‘police’ before shooting should be no magic protection for police killing.
      Police are recognized by the totality of their actions… a knock on the door from officer friendly, with his sidearms fully holstered, a marked cruiser out front, lights flashing on the car, and avoid behaving exactly as a burglar would act.

    2. If shouting “Police with a warrant!” on the other side of a solid locked door as you apply a battering ram justifies shooting the homeowner if they defend themselves against unknown parties breaking down their backdoor, then yelling “Police!” without allowing time for the resident to react would have justified shooting her.

  10. What does it say about me that I am staunchly against the death penalty (primarily because I don’t trust the government anywhere near enough to grant them that power), yet when it comes to a murdering cop like this, I’d have no problem with the noose, chair, or lethal injection?

    1. Inigo Montoya: I think it says that you believe that death is a reasonable penalty for certain crimes, but that you have no faith in the government not screw up every single step of the process, either accidentally in the case of incompetence, or maliciously in the case of politically ambitious prosecutors.

  11. I have a different take on this.

    I don’t get the sense that this guy was looking to put the beat down on a mom. This wasn’t some corrupt cop falsifying a warrant or administering extrajudicial punishment. The dude was given bad information and the wrong training.

    He’s being scapegoated on behalf of the people who made both policy and communication errors. He was just the tool left holding the bag.

    1. I don’t know. He was told to check for a possible burglary. Even if the person who came to window had been a burglar (one of the rare female ones, apparently) I don’t think the correct response is to shoot a burglar on sight.

      The system is to blame for sure, as usual, but I think the individual bears the brunt of the responsibility in this case.

      1. rough neighhborhood, the burbs, or gated community, cops can’t just shoot whatever moves, regardless of what information they might have been given by a presumably well intentioned neighbor, or how that information was transmitted by dispatch.
        There is just no just gunning down of people peaceably residing in their own home.

    2. It would have to be massively MASSIVELY bad training to get you to the point that merely seeing a gun is enough to get you to shoot.

  12. An improvement that over the top use of force is to be punished (maybe, depending on trial outcome.)

    But has all the wrong message, with the implication in the story that if only he had uttered some magic phrase then the killing would have been all right. merely saying the word ‘police’ a fraction of a second before shooting should not be seen as an excuse.
    The entirety of their approach needed to be different. If no sirens, then turn on the red/blue lights on the cruiser, shine some spot light from the car, phone the listed homeowner (an advantage of residency permits, and up to date contact information left with the city I live in), don’t go skulking around in the shadows…

    Everything these cops did, the non-shooting cop too, was done in a way that would maximize the perception for any homeowner that there was a burglar prowling the perimiter.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.