The presiding judge has not yet set a date for the criminal trial of a former Fort Worth police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson in October 2019.
Mayor Mattie Parker on Friday shared a message with the Fort Worth community regarding the pending trial timeline:
“I hear, and share in, our community’s growing concern regarding the criminal trial of former City of Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean.
“Until this criminal trial is resolved, Fort Worth cannot reconcile or move forward as a more unified community, and more importantly, Atatiana Jefferson’s family and friends cannot begin to find healing.
“The full responsibility and sole authority to set the trial date lies with Judge Hagerman, and the city has no control over when the trial moves forward. I realize that Tarrant County courts are balancing a full docket with hundreds of cases that are lagging behind schedule due to the effects of the pandemic.
“Despite these obstacles, it is imperative that a trial date be set as soon as possible.
“As mayor, I am committed to ensuring the City of Fort Worth honors Atatiana Jefferson’s legacy and the family she left behind. I will be reaching out to her family to listen and better understand the best ways to accomplish that goal.”
The first days of testimony at the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death were dominated by witnesses to his arrest and countless videos that forced them to relive the trauma of it all over again.
One man who shouted “You can’t win!” at Floyd as the Black man struggled with police, bowed his head and sobbed on the stand. The teenager who shot widely seen bystander video cried as she talked about her guilt over not being able to help Floyd. A firefighter trained as an EMT broke down as she described her frustration because police prevented her from acting to save Floyd’s life. The young cashier who reported that Floyd used a $20 counterfeit bill to buy cigarettes — prompting a call to police — recalled his guilt as he watched Floyd struggling to breathe.
Attorneys on both sides at the trial of former Officer Derek Chauvin face a delicate balance in questioning witnesses who have experienced such pain while trying to advance their cases. The testimony raises questions about how witnesses who have suffered trauma are treated when they participate in the criminal justice system.
New York Law School criminal law professor Kirk Burkhalter, a former detective who leads a program on police reform, said the bystander testimony has been a powerful reminder of how police misconduct is a betrayal to the entire community.
“These people have been walking around with this pain for a year, unbeknownst to us,” he said. “They were victims of a crime. We just cannot forget that. They were trying to do their civic duty and they were prevented from interceding in something that was just completely horrible.”
A former California police chief will be the next leader of the Dallas police department and the Texas city’s first Hispanic chief.
Eddie Garcia, who retired as police chief in San Jose this year, will replace outgoing Police Chief U. Renee Hall, Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax announced Wednesday. Garcia’s first day on the job is set for Feb. 3.
Garcia spent nearly three decades rising through the ranks of the San Jose police department before eventually taking over the top job there. He will succeed Hall, who was the first woman to serve a Dallas chief, after she announced she’d be leaving at the end of the year following criticism from city officials over her leadership amid protests and unrest that swept the country over the summer.
Mayor Eric Johnson welcomed Garcia in a statement and called his hiring a “historic moment for Dallas.” Johnson said he looks forward to seeing the new chief’s strategies to make the city safer.
Garcia beat out several other candidates, including current Dallas commanders, and will take over the department as it struggles with a rise in violent crime and dearth of trust among some Black and Latino residents.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata said he looks forward to working with Garcia, although his organization had hoped an internal candidate would be named chief.
Garcia brings decades of experience to Dallas and the Texas city has a population similar to San Jose’s in size and demographics. But Mata said the new chief will also have his work cut out for him in bringing down Dallas’ murder rate and would do well to surround himself with commanders who know the city and its politics.
Shortly after 9:00pm on Friday, December 25, 2020, Grapevine Police were alerted to a report of a man inside Great Wolf Lodge who made threatening comments and claims of a firearm. The man was no longer in sight when officers arrived but a witness provided a description of the man.
Within minutes of the initial report, several phone calls were made to 9-1-1 about a hotel guest being threatened or in danger. Additional officers were dispatched to the scene, including members of the Northeast Tarrant County SWAT Team, as well as officers from Bedford PD, Euless PD, Hurst PD, Irving PD and Southlake PD. Grapevine Fire medics also staged on the property as a precaution.
Officers began searching the property and securing areas, while also trying to make contact with the witnesses. The threats were traced to the 8th floor of the hotel, so officers evacuated the floor and conducted a room-by-room search of the guest quarters. Guests from the 8th floor were moved to a secure area inside the resort, while guests on other floors were asked to stay in their rooms.
Detectives interviewed the occupants of a room where one of the calls originated, and determined they were not in danger. No reports of injury were ever made, and no suspect was located. Officers cleared all areas of concern at approximately 2:00 a.m. Some officers remained on the property as an additional precaution.
Grapevine Police appreciates all of the employees and guests who reported information, and encourage anyone who sees something suspicious to report it immediately.