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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Psychologist testifies ex-cop who killed Atatiana Jefferson was unfit for job

After being convicted of manslaughter, Aaron Dean faces between two and 20 years in state prison for killing Atatiana Jefferson while responding to a request for a welfare check.

FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) — A psychologist testified Friday that he deemed former Fort Worth cop Aaron Dean as unfit for duty during a pre-employment evaluation due to narcissistic and controlling tendencies.

Dr. Kyle Clayton told jurors during the sentencing phase of trial that Dean, 38, of Arlington, possessed “domineering” personality traits that rendered him “not psychologically suitable” to work as a cop.

“[His] narcissistic personality would inhibit his judgment, decision making, interpersonal abilities and make him more likely to engage in behaviors that would put himself and others at risk,” Clayton said.

His testimony came one day after the Tarrant County jury convicted Dean of manslaughter in the killing of Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black woman, when he was responding to a neighbor’s request for a welfare check in 2019 due to her front door being left open.

Body camera footage shows Dean failing to identify himself as police when he reached the front door. He then went down the side of the house and fired one shot into a bedroom window, killing Jefferson in front of her young nephew.

The call was coded by 911 dispatchers as an open structure call. Defense attorneys argued that Dean did not identify himself because general orders require open structure calls to be treated the same as silent alarms. Jurors were not persuaded by Dean’s claims that he fired in self-defense when he saw the barrel of a gun through the window.

Clayton testified that prospective police officers who flunk the evaluation can still appeal to a panel of three psychologists for reevaluation.

Dean faces between two and 20 years in state prison. Jurors declined to convict Dean on the harsher murder charge that he was originally indicted under. He would have faced between five to 99 years under that charge.

Jurors also heard testimony Friday from Elizabeth Turner, who was in a homeschooled student organization at the University of Texas at Arlington with Dean when they were both students. She accused Dean of inappropriately touching her breast when she was 18 years old and making sexual advances that resulted in him being cited for assault.

Fort Worth detective Thomas Dugan testified Friday that Dean was “pretty torn up” immediately after the shooting.

“I remember I was out somewhere with family and I got a call,” he said. “He was pretty devastated.”

Dugan said that although Dean is “not a people person,” he displayed compassion towards other people.

Dean’s mother, Donna, told jurors her son left a career in engineering to become a police officer.

“He wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and to help people,” she said. “He’s smart, he’s a hard worker, definitely wants to help people and very faithfully carried out his responsibilities.”

Dean’s mother said he enjoys talking to people from many backgrounds because he has a wide range of interests, including music and history.

Defense attorneys tried to question her about members of the public shouting ugly accusations at the Dean family as they left the courthouse on Thursday, but Tarrant County Judge George Gallagher sustained prosecution objections that the testimony is inadmissible hearsay.

After Dean’s mother left the witness stand, defense attorneys tried to have local activist Manuel Mata sworn in as a possible witness regarding the confrontation with the Dean family. A visibly stunned Mata tried to ask the judge why he was being sworn in and when he refused, the judge held Mata’s bond in underlying cases as insufficient and had courtroom deputies take him into custody.

Follow @davejourno
Categories / Criminal, Regional, Trials

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