The judge overseeing the case against a former Fort Worth police officer charged with killings Atatiana Jefferson has issued a gag order ahead of the trial.
Aaron Dean, 34, was arrested on murder charges earlier this month after fatally shooting Jefferson inside her mother’s home on Oct. 12. Dean shot the 28-year-old through a window after failing to announce himself as an officer, an arrest affidavit showed.
A grand jury has yet to decide whether to indict Dean for murder, however, Judge David Hagerman voiced concern about the publicity surrounding the high-profile case. He signed a gag order Friday, saying “an order restricting publicity in this case is necessary … to prevent imminent [and] irreparable harm to the judicial process.”
The order essentially prevents anyone involved with the case from making statements about witnesses, evidence or any opinion about Dean’s guilt or innocence, CBS Dallas-Forth Worth reported. Additionally, the restrictions extend to “any lawyer who represents any witness or family member of the victim or defendant.”
Lee Merritt, a lawyer for Jefferson’s family, had been vocal about details of the case but quieted after a separate judge also issued a gag order following a legal dispute between the victim’s relatives earlier this month.
CBS-DFW reported that the restrictions in the Jefferson case largely mirror the publicity restrictions imposes by a Dallas County judge during the trial against former officer Amber Guyger. Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison last month for shooting and killing her Black neighbor, Botham Jean, after allegedly mistaking his apartment for hers.
Merritt also represented Jean’s family after the hooting.
Fort Worth authorities said Dean has been uncooperative and refused to speak with investigators after killing Jefferson, who was up playing video games with her nephew. An arrest affidavit states that the former officer declined an interview with detectives in the immediate aftermath of the deadly shooting.
“He resigned before his opportunity to be cooperative,” interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said of the former officer, who also declined to give a written statement.
“I cannot tell you what he felt,” the police chief added. “He did not give a statement.”
Dean remains free on $200,000 bond.
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