Ex-Fort Worth police officer sentenced to probation

FORT WORTH _ Former Fort Worth police Cpl. Yatashka Jefferson was sentenced Wednesday to five years probation for kicking down the apartment door of his estranged wife's male friend, threatening him with a gun, then, after the man jumped off a second-story balcony to escape, firing a gun in his direction outside the apartment.

But Jefferson was ordered to serve 30 days in jail and participate in a batterers' intervention program as a condition of the probationary sentence recommended by the same jury that convicted him Tuesday of burglary of a habitation and aggravated assault in connection with the June 16 assault on Isiah Williams.

In the jury's presence, Judge Scott Wisch lectured the 32-year-old former gang officer for nearly 20 minutes -- almost half as long as it took jurors to recommend his sentence -- about his arrogant attitude during his testimony Wednesday morning.

Wisch alluded to Jefferson's insistence during cross-examination by prosecutor Sheila Wynn that he did not take a gun with him to confront Williams, the man he said he believed had raped his wife. That scenario is so unbelievable, Wisch said, Jefferson either used very poor judgment or he was lying.

"You need to cut your gung-ho fighter pilot attitude so you'll have a chance of making it 5 years" on probation, Wisch said. "You're going to spend 30 days in jail reflecting on the next 52 years."

Wisch, who allowed Jefferson to remain free on bond until the trial ended, gave the former officer two weeks to report to jail to begin serving the 30-day sentence. He said Jefferson could benefit from the batterers program even if he struck his estranged wife only one time -- the day he assaulted Williams.

But Wisch said he was most disturbed by what he perceived as an effort by Jefferson to make jurors feel guilty for convicting him Tuesday.

Asked by his attorney if he accepted responsibility for his actions, Jefferson responded, "I do understand it was hard for you to come to that decision. I saw the tears in your eyes. It hurt me to have to accept that."

"You don't have the right to lecture the jury that you understand if they made a mistake," Wisch said.

Before excusing the jury, Wisch apologized for his lengthy comments to Jefferson in their presence.

"I've never heard a defendant in 30 years talk to a jury about their tears. You have nothing to be ashamed of," he said.