Aaron Dean, a white police officer, fatally shot Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black woman, while police were responding to an “open structure call” in October 2019 as her home’s door was open.
Her now 11-year-old nephew Zion was with Jefferson when she was fatally shot. He was 8 at the time of the shooting.
Dean was convicted of manslaughter rather than murder earlier this month; he could have been sentenced to 20 years.
A jury in Tarrant County unanimously sentenced him to 11 years, 10 months, and 12 days, according to Fox’s Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate station KDFW. The decision came after the jury deliberated for a day and a half.
Jefferson’s sister Ashley Carr reacted to the sentencing, saying: “Would we want more time? Yes, we would. But that’s what the jury decided,” said Carr while standing outside of Jefferson’s home, according to the news station.
“This has been hard guys,” she continued. “These three years have been hard.”
She noted the significance of the sentencing, pointing out Zion’s age.
“11 years is same age as Zion. 10 months and 12 days, that’s the day that it happened. There’s a message in this,” she said, according to KDFW. “It may not be the message that we wanted and the whole dream, but that is some of it.”
The family’s attorney, Lee Merritt, called the sentencing “a relief.”
“It wasn’t exactly the justice we all thought Atatiana deserved, but it does represent a historic moment in Fort Worth and Tarrant County,” he said, per KDFW.
Jefferson was killed on Oct. 12, 2019, when Fort Worth, Texas, police responded to an “open structure call” in the 1200 block of E. Allen Avenue at around 2:30 a.m. A neighbor called authorities to report that Jefferson’s front door was open.
Jefferson had been playing video games with Zion when the call was made, but the neighbor had simply asked for cops to check on the Texas woman out of concern for her safety, after noticing that her front door was open.
Body-camera footage, released by the police and shared by multiple media outlets, showed two officers walking around the side of the house as one officer approached a closed first-floor window with a flashlight. After raising his gun, the officer screamed, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!”
The officer, later identified as Dean, never identified himself as a police officer before firing.