A lawyer for the family of Atatiana Jefferson voiced his concerns Tuesday about the DA tasked with overseeing the case against the Texas cop charged with murder in the young woman’s slaying.
Civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt did not mince words in his criticism of Tarrant County district attorney Sharen Wilson, who he dubbed a “racist” and likened to staunch Birmingham, Alabama, segregationist police official Bull Connor. He pointed to Wilson’s track record as a DA and questioned her ability to be impartial ins the case.
“We’re nowhere close to being concluded that this officer is even going to be formally charged with murder,” Merritt told SiriusXM host Joe Madison last week. “There’s still so much more work to do in this case.”
Jefferson, 28, died Oct. 12 after she was fatally shot by police at her Fort Worth home. The pre-med student was up late playing video games with her nephew when then-officer Aaron Dean shot her through a window, killing her.
Dean, who was with Fort Worth police for just over a year, resigned last Monday and faces a murder charge in Jefferson’s killing.
He’s currently free on bond.
The charges against Dean are now being presented to a grand jury, which Madison noted are typically hard to read, Law & Crime reported. Merritt agreed, before turning the discussion back to Wilson and her pivotal role ins prosecuting a highly-criticized voter fraud case last year.
“We do know this district attorney,” Merritt explained, “Her name is Sharen Wilson. She’s the woman responsible for sentencing a black woman to five years in prison for voting in the last election — a young woman named Crystal Mason.”
Mason, who was on supervised release from a felony conviction at the time, had cast a provisional ballot in the 2016 presidential election, not knowing her status as a felon under supervision made her ineligible to vote in the state of Texas. While her ballot ultimately went uncounted, Wilson’s office decided to prosecute her anyway, arguing Mason was well aware her voting privileges had been revoked.
Mason, 43, was convicted in a bench trial by U.S. District Judge Ruben Gonzalez, who was actually the one to sentence her to five years for voting illegally, not Wilson (judges or in some cases juries impose sentences, not prosecutors). Attorneys for the mother of two continued their appeal last month to have her conviction overturned.
“I call Sharen Wilson the Bull Connor of our generation,” Merritt said of the controversial DA, drawing parallels between her and the notorious white Birmingham County public safety commissioner who turned fire hoses and sicced police dogs on young Black protesters during the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s desegregation campaign of 1963.
“She is a bad district attorney and she is a racist, quite frankly,” he added. “It concerns that this case is landing in her lap. I’m hoping that the Department of Justice will step in [and] prosecute this case on their own.”
Madison was audibly shocked by it all: “No, the same woman?” he said. “This is the same district attorney that sentenced that woman to five years for trying to vote?”
Mason is currently forestalled serving her state prison sentence for the voter fraud conviction as she remains free on an appeal bond.
Hear more in the clip below.