FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Jury selection began Monday in the murder trial of former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean, who in 2019 fatally shot a Black woman through a window of her own home while responding to a call about an open front door.
Dean is charged with shooting and killing Atatiana Jefferson in October 2019 after a neighbor called a police non-emergency line to report that the front door to Jefferson’s home was open.
District Judge George Gallagher started proceedings by asking potential jurors if they had read or seen anything about the case, acknowledging that it has received significant media coverage.
Potential jurors were expected to fill out a 25-page questionnaire Monday. Attorneys will read the responses and plan to question the potential jurors Wednesday and Thursday.
Gallagher said he hoped to have 14 people -- 12 jurors and two alternates -- in place by Thursday or Friday.
The initial phase of the trial began after years of delays, including because of the COVID-19 pandemic grinding courts across the country to a standstill and because of the poor health of Dean’s then-lead attorney Jim Lane.
Lane died Sunday, said Manny Ramirez, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association. His death brought an outpouring of tributes in Fort Worth from government and civic leaders, who called Lane a community leader.
Dean resigned from the police department after he was charged with Jefferson’s killing.
Bodycam video shows Dean approaching the door of the home where Jefferson was watching her nephew. The video shows Dean walking around the side of the house, pushing through a gate into the fenced-off backyard and firing through the glass window after shouting for Jefferson to show her hands. Dean is not heard identifying himself as a police officer.
It’s unclear what Dean’s defense might be, since a judge issued a gag order barring both parties from discussing the case publicly.