Around 200 people were selected as possible jurors for the trial of former Forth Worth, Texas, police officer Aaron Dean fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson inside her home three years ago. Eight men and six women, none of them were Black, WFAA reported.
The jurors for the trial are predominantly white, with a few minorities.
“It’s just mind-boggling that this would happen at this date and time given the circumstances,” Forth Worth community leader and activist Cory Sessions said. “If he’s found not guilty of the charges, race will be brought up, and it could be a bad day for the city of Fort Worth and race relations. But the people who are the custodians of the judicial process are the ones should answer for how this jury pool ended up this way.”
During the selection process, potential jurors were allowed to express their feelings toward police officers. Several truthfully said they would be biased during the trial because they don’t see anything wrong with police officers “doing their jobs.”
“I am sick and tired about the way police officers are treated and how they do their jobs,” one juror explained. “You could present your case, but I am not going to be unbiased. I couldn’t convict any law enforcement of murder while involved in a shooting because they are doing their jobs and trying to come home to their families.”
The lack of African American jurors for the trial is troubling. Still, Valerie Baston, a former Tarrant County prosecutor, wasn’t surprised by the jury makeup, stating that it was expected, but she’s hopeful for good results regardless of the jurors’ race.
“I can’t tell you if it’s going to be harder on the prosecutors with this particular jury makeup,” Baston said. “But I’m confident that these jurors will do the right thing and that they will listen to the evidence, and if the State meets their burden of proof and proves the elements, then the jurors should return a guilty verdict.”
As previously reported by News Onyx, Jefferson died on Oct. 19, 2019, in her home. She was playing video games with her then-8-year-old nephew Zion Carr when she heard a weird noise outside, prompting her to retrieve a gun from her purse, according to Carr.
Police were outside responding to a report about her front door wide open with the screen door closed. Bodycam footage showed Dean at the back of Jefferson’s house. He yelled for her to raise her hand after spotting her through a window. Without giving her time to respond, he shot through the window, killing her.
After quitting the force, Dean was arrested for murder. The trial began Monday morning, Dec. 5.