Amber Guyger told investigators she mistakenly entered Botham Jean’s apartment and mistook him for a burglar when she shot him.
A grand jury indicted a fired white Dallas police officer on a murder charge Friday for fatally shooting her unarmed black neighbor after mistakenly entering his apartment, a killing that triggered national outrage and claims of police racial bias.
Officer Amber Guyger, who was employed on the force at the time of the shooting and was in full uniform, said she mistook the neighbor’s apartment for her own and thought 26-year-old Botham Jean was a burglar.
Guyger told investigators that after finishing her shift, she returned home and parked on the fourth floor of her apartment complex’s garage, rather than the third floor, where her unit was located, according to an affidavit prepared by the Texas Rangers.
She said she got to what she thought was her apartment – Jean’s was directly above hers – and found the door ajar. She opened it to find a figure standing in the darkness. She said she pulled her gun and fired twice after the person ignored her commands.
The circumstances of the shooting sparked outrage and led many to question Guyger’s account of what happened. Critics, including Jean’s family, also wondered why it took three days for Guyger to be charged, why she wasn’t taken into custody immediately after the shooting and whether race played a factor in her decision to use deadly force.
Responding to criticism that the original manslaughter charge was too lenient, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said the grand jury could decide on the more serious charge of murder, which it did.
The parents of Botham Jean spoke out about the indictment of police officer, Amber Guyger, who was arrested for shooting their son in his own apartment in Dallas.
Guyger had been terminated from the force by Police Chief U. Renee Hall. An internal investigation revealed Guyger “engaged in adverse conduct when she was arrested for manslaughter’’ three days after the Sept. 6 shooting of Jean.
Police did not specify the nature of the “adverse conduct,” but Dallas police spokesman Sgt. Warren Mitchell later described it in a written response as “conduct which adversely affects the morale or efficiency of the Department or which has a tendency to adversely affect, lower, destroy public respect and confidence in the Department or officer.”
A five-year veteran, the officer was going home after a more than 12-hour shift and said she went to the wrong apartment, believing it was hers.
Guyger called 911 and authorities responded and took Jean to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
After the indictment was issued, Guyger turned herself in and posted bond a second time. She had been free on bond since her arrest.
With the murder charge, she faces up to life in prison if convicted. A manslaughter charge would have brought a sentence of up to 20 years.
Her attorney, Robert Rogers, said he was not surprised by the indictment, citing the political pressure surrounding the case and a wave of “vindictive emotion” targeting his client. He said Jean’s mother testified before the grand jury, which he described as highly unusual.
Allison Jean, Jean’s mother, said she wants transparency from the police officer who shot her son.
“I truly believe that she inflicted tremendous evil on my son,” Allison said after the announcement. “He didn’t deserve it. He was seated in his own apartment.”
Botham Jean attended and studied accountancy at Harding University in Arkansas.
According to the university, Botham frequently led worship for chapel and for campus events. In a service this morning, Harding University President Bruce McLarty shared some memories of Botham with students in chapel.
In a Facebook post, Earl, Jean’s uncle posted a collage of pictures in remembrance of his nephew.
“How can this nasty world take you away from me…this is the worst day of my life thus far…uncle loves you so much,” he wrote.
Jean’s sister also took to Facebook posting the following: “Just last week I was thinking of what to get you for your birthday, now I have to go pick out your casket. You will always be my baby brother. I love you with all of my heart,” she wrote.
Jean’s killing thrust Dallas into the national conversation on the intersection of race and law enforcement, a dialogue revived by the high-profile trials of officers charged with murder in police shootings.
In October, white Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 on-duty shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times.
And in August, white former Dallas-area officer Roy Oliver was convicted of murder after firing into a car filled with black teenagers leaving a house party in 2017 and fatally shooting 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.
Contributing: Associated Press