Texas was once again at the forefront of some of the biggest legal stories of the year. The following are the state’s top stories of 2022 as determined by the staff of Androvett Legal Media & Marketing.
Former Texas Police Officer Sentenced in Fatal Shooting of Atatiana Jefferson
On Dec. 15, for the first time in history, a Tarrant County jury found a former Fort Worth police officer guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of a citizen. A prison sentence of 11 years, 10 months and 12 days was announced four days later, more than three years after Atatiana Jefferson was killed on Oct. 12, 2019, by FWPD’s Aaron Dean while he was responding to an “open structure” welfare check call in a south Fort Worth neighborhood.
Dean testified during trial he thought Jefferson’s house was being burglarized and shot in self-defense after seeing the silhouette of a figure holding a gun. Jefferson, who had been playing video games with her young nephew, apparently grabbed her gun upon hearing noises outside her window. Body-cam evidence showed neither Dean nor a second officer identified themselves as police upon arrival and Dean fired the single, fatal shot a split-second after shouting out a warning to “show me your hands.”
Dean was charged with murder, but jurors convicted him on the lesser charge of manslaughter following a week-long trial. It is expected that Dean’s attorney will appeal the conviction, but with a sentence exceeding 10 years, he is not eligible for bond during any appeal process.
Criminal defense attorney Russell Wilson, in an interview with Fox4News, said that he believes the Jefferson family and Fort Worth community should view the conviction and sentence as fair and just.
“This jury deliberated for a substantial period of time, and the verdict was pretty thoughtful,” he said. “The message out of all of this is that law enforcement, even in the line of duty, does not have a blank check. Society will enforce criminal rules against police officers discharging their duty. That is a significant change not only in Tarrant County, but also nationwide.”