FORT WORTH, Texas - There were several emotional reactions after former Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter for killing Atatiana Jefferson.
After days of emotionally charged testimony, jurors came back on Thursday with a guilty verdict of manslaughter.
"We are at a point that a lot of people have been waiting for, but there can be nothing that occurs when I announce this verdict. I have no idea what the verdict is. There can be no outbursts. There can be no demonstrations. There can be no response in this courtroom," Judge George Gallagher said before reading the verdict.
However, several people were not content with the verdict. They wanted Dean to be convicted of the more serious charge of murder.
After the verdict was read and people stepped out into the hallway, crying and screams could be heard.
One woman, who identified herself as Olinka Green, was upset and had several emotional outbursts.
"I will not be silent!" she can be heard saying. "Don’t tell me to calm down! I have no more calm! I have no more patience! My sh** went out the God damn door with that verdict!"
Some people could be heard agreeing with Green, saying "she got a right to say what she just said."
Others were more subdued with their reactions.
"I don’t know what to say at this moment," said Fort Worth Councilmen Chris Nettles. "I’m just trying to gather all of the thoughts together."
Jefferson’s siblings left the courtroom immediately. They are still under a gag order and unable to talk about the case.
Witnesses and others directly involved in the case cannot talk until after sentencing.
And while there was disappointment from some, others saw this conviction as a step forward.
"I’ve been here every day of this trial, and I applaud Ashlea and Dale," said Lesa Pamplin, a friend of Jefferson’s family. "They had a tough job, but they got something. And I got to explain to the community: something is better than nothing."
"Years ago, he wouldn’t have ever gotten tried," said Bishop Mark Kirkland with St. Mark Church. "And if he did, he wouldn't have gotten convicted of any felony. So it’s a small step, but it’s a gain for us."
"I think it’s the appropriate conviction, charge of manslaughter," said community activist Cory Session. "I didn’t think it met the bar of murder. That is the intent, meaning he intended to kill her. He did kill her, and the jury found in my opinion he was reckless and caused the death of someone else. They didn’t buy the argument that he was in fear of his life."
Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker released a statement saying, "Today's verdict provides a measure of justice, though it does not change the fact that a tragedy occurred that should have never happened. This tragedy for me has always been about Atatiana Jefferson – about her life as a daughter, sister, and aunt, and her lasting legacy. Many people in our community are hurting, and we must come together with compassion and grace."
The Next Generation Action Network, a local activist group released the following statement:
"Our organization is pleased to know that the jury realized this was a crime, but we still believe it was murder. We thank the jury for their service, but we are criticizing the leadership of Sharon Wilson, who failed to put the appropriate resources from her office. In this case during the trial. the Tarrant County District Attorney's office really didn't show they wanted to prosecute this case. Still, we stand with the family in knowing that some semblance of justice is going to be served. Still, we must all continue to understand that there is a lot of work to be done in regards to the city of Fort Worth in the levels of corruption that were mentioned in this trial. We want city leaders to know they failed the community at large."
"The officers and members of the Fort Worth Tarrant County Branch of the NAACP join others across the nation in expressing relief that justice was served in the Aaron Dean verdict," the NAACP told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "We’re optimistic that this decision may represent a paradigm shift, where we begin to overcome racial and social injustices locally, regionally, and nationally that have been pervasive in policing."
Dean was facing a murder charge with up to 99 years in prison.
The punishment phase begins Friday at 8:30 a.m.