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Fort Worth Cop Who Shot Woman Dead Had 2004 Assault Charge

A white Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed a black woman in her home last month disclosed during his police department job interview in that he was attracted to what he perceived to be the action and adventure of working in law enforcement, that he was charged with simple assault in 2004 and would have "no problem" taking a life.

Aaron Dean, 35, acknowledged during the 2017 hiring process that he touched a female friend inappropriately in a library at the University of Texas at Arlington, and said he pleaded no-contest to the misdemeanor charge, according to a video of the interview first obtained by NBC 5 Investigates.

Dean is facing a murder charge for shooting 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson through her back window after responding to a call about the front door being open. He resigned from the department in October and has pleaded not guilty in the woman's death.

In the interview, Dean told the panel, "There was a young lady at the school flirting with me. I wanted to respond to see where it would go. It escalated a bit. I touched her inappropriately. It was an inappropriate action. And she, of course, took exception to it and rightfully so."

Dean told the panel he pleaded no contest to a charge of simple assault, paid a fine, and learned from his mistake.

"What's changed since then is being careful about my actions and how they're perceived by others," he said.

Dean graduated from UTA in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in physics and joined the Fort Worth police force in April 2018. The charge from more than a decade earlier wouldn't prevent Dean from becoming an officer under Fort Worth's civil service regulations.

In a police evaluation in April, Dean's supervisor commended him for working at the level of more experienced officers, exhorting him to "keep up the good work." But in a May 2018 performance review, the supervisor wrote that Dean had poor communication skills, sometimes suffered from tunnel vision and had missed calls for help over the radio. Another review accused him of being evasive rather than owing up to doing wrong.

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

During his job interview, Dean reportedly 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 said he wanted to serve the public and liked "the action and adventure" that he believed came with being an officer. He also said he would have "no problem" using lethal force if necessary.

Bodycam footage shows Dean shot Jefferson early on the morning of Oct. 12 after entering her backyard. Dean cannot be heard identifying himself as police on the video. 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.

A gun was found in Jefferson's home after the shooting, but police and city leaders have said it was not relevant to her death.

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