Texas cop who shot woman in her home said lethal force "no problem" in 2017 interview

Atatiana Jefferson, seen at left, was shot and killed in her home in Fort Worth, Texas, by police officer Aaron Dean, right, on Oct. 12, 2019. He has been charged with murder. LEE MERRITT/CBS DFW (LEFT); TARRANT COUNTY JAIL (RIGHT)
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A Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot a woman in her home last month had been critiqued in a 2018 performance review for missing calls for help over the radio and sometimes having "tunnel vision."

The new details about Aaron Dean's work history come from records obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Dean's supervisor commended him in his most recent evaluation, in April 2019, for working at the level of more experienced officers, exhorting him to "keep up the good work," the records show.

But his supervisor was critical in earlier performance reviews, writing that Dean had poor communication skills and accusing him of being evasive rather than owning up to doing wrong.

During his 2017 police department job interview, a video of which was obtained by the paper, Dean said he would have "no problem" using lethal force if necessary.

The records offer new insight into the 35-year-old who is facing a murder charge for shooting 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson through her back window after responding to a call about an open front door.

He resigned from the department in October without answering questions about the shooting, which drew national outrage.

During the 2017 job interview, Dean said he wanted to serve the public and liked "the action and adventure" that he believed came with being an officer.

Dean said he had aspired to join the military and saw becoming a police officer as a "way to do some of those same things without having to deploy overseas."

Dean also disclosed during his interview that he pleaded no-contest in 2004 to a charge of simple assault for touching "a girl I was friends with" inappropriately when he was a college student.

Dean said the woman reported him to police after he stroked her breast in the library at the University of Texas at Arlington.

He said she had been flirtatious and that he "just wanted to respond, see how it would go." Dean told the interviewing officers that he paid a fine and has been more careful since.

Dean graduated in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in physics and joined the Fort Worth police force in April 2018.

The misdemeanor charge from more than a decade earlier wouldn't have prevented Dean from becoming an officer under Fort Worth's civil service regulations.

Dean's attorney, Jim Lane, has not commented on his client's state of mind or his response to the murder charge. The judge overseeing the murder trial case last week issued a gag order barring the parties from discussing it publicly.

Bodycam footage shows Dean shot Jefferson early on the morning of October 12 after entering her backyard.

Jefferson had been up late playing video games with her young nephew. The video shows Dean fired less than a second after yelling for Jefferson to show her hands, and without ever identifying himself as a police officer.

Police said Dean drew his gun after "perceiving a threat" but that there was no sign he or the other officer who responded ever knocked on the front door.

An arrest warrant says the child told investigators Jefferson heard a noise outside and grabbed her gun from her purse as she went to investigate. The boy said Jefferson had the gun pointed at the window when she was shot from outside, according to the warrant.

Interim Fort Worth police chief Ed Kraus last month said there is "no excuse" for the shooting and vowed Dean would be held accountable.

He said it made sense that Jefferson, who was licensed to carry, would have had her gun if she thought there was an intruder in her backyard.