Former Fort Worth mayor, police chief testify in Aaron Dean pre-trial hearing
FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — Fort Worth's former mayor and police chief testified in court Thursday about what they knew and said in the first days after a high-profile officer involved shooting in 2019.
Their statements are key to a new push to move the approaching murder trial for former officer Aaron Dean, out of Tarrant County.
Dean's attorneys are arguing that press releases and media briefings from influential people, including the city's longest serving mayor Betsy Price, and former chief Ed Kraus, could have poisoned the local jury pool. They particularly keyed in on what details Price and Kraus knew about the evidence in the case, and the statements of eyewitnesses when Atatiana Jefferson was shot at killed.
Kraus, who said at a press conference days after the shooting that there was no excuse for what happened, testified he did not recall being briefed before that on an interview with Jefferson's nephew, who told an investigator he saw his aunt point a gun at Dean.
Price had referred to the gun as irrelevant at the time. In her testimony Thursday she said "You always want to defuse traumatic situations."
Other testimony Thursday added insight to the level of importance the case was given by elected officials.
Robert Huseman, a former assistant district attorney for Tarrant County who said he usually handled officer involved shootings, testified that while he originally was called to the scene the night of the shooting, he later found himself off the case.
While standard practice in officer involved shootings was to present evidence to a grand jury, he said, without a recommendation on issuing an indictment, in this case an arrest warrant for Dean was issued within days. Huseman said that broke years of protocol in the office, and that a police detective was visibly upset he was asked to obtain an arrest warrant at the time.
Dean's team also brought a forensic psychologist, Dr. Jeanine Galusha, to back their argument that early statements from public officials could create a bias against Dean. Galusha testified that research show the information people hear first about something, is often what they tend to believe, even if that information is refuted later.
Dean's team is still waiting on requests for emails from several city and county employees, sent and received in the days after the shooting. Jury selection is still scheduled for Nov. 28.
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