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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A former Fort Worth police officer faces a murder trial early next year for fatally shooting a Black woman through a back window of her home in 2019 while responding to a call about an open front door.
A Tarrant County judge on Tuesday scheduled Aaron Dean’s trial in the fatal shooting of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson for Jan. 10, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Jury selection is set to begin six days earlier, although Judge David Hagerman indicated he’s expecting Dean’s lawyers to seek a change of venue.
A location change could further hold up a case, which has been delayed repeatedly over the more than two years since Dean shot Jefferson during a late-night wellness check at her mother’s house. His case was among many that were postponed when the coronavirus pandemic caused courts across the country to postpone jury trials.
EXAMINATION: The police shootings of Black Americans and how leadership plays a role
Dean, 37, resigned from the city police force two days after shooting Jefferson. He was charged with murder and released on a $200,000 bond.
Following the shooting, Fort Worth police released body camera footage that showed Dean walked around the side of the house, pushed through a gate into the fenced-off backyard and fired through a window a split-second after shouting at Jefferson to show her hands. Police went to the house after a neighbor called a non-emergency line to report that the front door was ajar.
Dean, who is white, was not heard identifying himself as police on the video. The city’s police chief at the time, Ed Kraus, said Dean acted without justification and that there was no sign he or the other officer who responded even knocked on the front door. Kraus said Dean would have been fired if he had not quit without giving a statement to investigators.
A judge has issued a gag order in Dean’s case. He declined to comment to a Star-Telegram reporter in court.
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