Atatiana Jefferson did nothing that most of us wouldn’t have done. She saw something suspicious, grabbed her gun, and went to check it out.
Where things went wrong was she ended up being shot and killed by a police officer.
Now, that officer has been tried, convicted, and is headed to prison.
A former Texas police officer was sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison Tuesday following his manslaughter conviction for shooting Atatiana Jefferson in her own home in 2019.
Aaron Dean, the 38-year-old White former Fort Worth police officer, had faced up to 20 years in prison for killing Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black woman.
Dean, in a gray suit, stood in court and showed no emotion as the sentence was read. Jefferson’s relatives read impact statements after the term of 11 years, 10 months and 12 days in prison was announced.
“My sister did not do anything wrong,” said Ashley Carr, Jefferson’s sister. “She was in her home, which should have been the safest place for her to be and yet turned out to be the most dangerous. She was murdered and, as her big sister, I live every day with the pain that I could not do my job and protect her.”
Carr said she pitied Dean.
“Not because of the punishment you have received for your crime,” she told Dean in court. “You and I both know that is insufficient. I pity your ignorance… You do not know enough to be ashamed. You’re not self aware enough to understand your responsibility for this evil act.”
Prosecutors asked for 20 years, which was the maximum sentence, but clearly, they didn’t get it.
I’m not going to get into whether the sentence is just or not, because that’s well outside my wheelhouse. However, I will say that I get why prosecutors said anything less than the maximum possible sentence would be a travesty of justice.
Dean, as a law enforcement officer, had a duty to protect the community. He cited his training as to why he fired his weapon when he did, but that training also taught him to identify himself as law enforcement, which he didn’t do.
He deserves that prison time. I’m sorry, but Atatiana Jefferson was a law-abiding gun owner. It could have been any of us on the receiving end of that gunshot and I think we all know it.
Dean screwed the pooch. He’s even admitted he messed up in a number of ways, though he denied any wrongdoing in Jefferson’s death, but why would he say otherwise? To anyone who looks at the evidence, it’s clear he screwed up.
And an innocent woman is dead because of it.
I cut law enforcement a bit of slack. I’ve been open and honest about why I cut them slack, but there’s no slack to be cut here. None at all. Not for this.
We, as armed Americans, have a right to self-defense. That means we have a right to be armed within our own homes. Atatiana Jefferson had a firearm in her home, and someone took her life for no good reason.
Now, that person is going to prison. Thankfully.