FORT WORTH, Texas — After Aaron Dean's manslaughter conviction, there is a message being voiced to every Fort Worth police officer, and it comes from one of their own.
After serving in the military, Luther Perry joined the Fort Worth Police Depatment. He even worked to help recruit others to become police officers.
Perry retired from FWPD two decades ago at the age of 41. He served as the administrator to the chief of police.
Today, after retiring 20 years ago, Perry said he believes nothing is more important than for officers to have a healthy relationship with the different communities they serve.
"You've got to be responsible. You've got to be accountable. And you've got to be transparent," said Perry, "When we operate in these different communities, we need to know a little bit about those communities and the people we serve, and above everything, you treat all of them regardless to what part of town you live in with dignity and respect."
As Perry watched Aaron Dean on trial for the 2019 shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, he made sure not to Monday morning quarterback his decision to shoot while investigating an open structure report.
"It gives a black eye to the police department," Perry said
But Perry said he believes Fort Worth will never be the same because of the Aaron Dean case. Perry shared one of the questions he himself would ask the convicted officer.
"Do you think he had some other options? Because I know when I was a rookie and sometimes I rushed into situations and shouldn't have," said Perry.
Perry also shared that he has been in a similar situation as Dean, but made a different decision. The retired officer stressed no two police runs are alike and each case can end differently.
"But there's one thing that you can't do, and that is to expect everybody to respond the same way unless we've been given the exact same training and you have the exact same experience," said Perry. "So you're not trained. In my experience. And what I grew up with made me hesitate before I took that life, made me back up and reassess."
Depending on the training and personal experiences growing up, Perry said he believes each officer will respond in ways that will vary altogether. He himself has had to decide on how to proceed on calls where there might be a reason to suspect a burglary in progress.
"I had a similar situation happen to me. We had a burglary and this guy was -- he turned out to be the poly burglar. He had burglarized over 263 homes and because the police department, when I joined, it wasn't so friendly to black officers. We didn't have the same kind of respect in my opinion. We had some racist stuff to go on," said Perry. "And so I arrived on the scene and we had three other burglaries in that same community of just one block in succession. So this meant we had five or six police officers in that area. I couldn't get anybody to back me up. But you know what I did? I just backed up, as it were. Whenever y'all send somebody that's going to go in and check it out."
Now, as Atatiana Jefferson's family awaits to learn Dean's punishment, Perry hopes they will continue to demand justice and change.
"Demand that we do something to change either policy training, hiring practices, stay engaged," Perry said. "That way, you can say that she didn't die in vain. We don't. Her name will forever live."
Luther Perry meets regularly with other retired Fort Worth Police Officers. He also continues to advocate for transparency hoping it will result in a better police-community relationship in the city he loves and served for so many years.