A Dallas County grand jury has indicted fired Dallas police officer Amber Guyger on a murder charge in the shooting death of Botham Jean, a Black man, at the 26-year-old man killed at his apartment in September, according to online court records.
The grand jury began hearing evidence in the case on Monday. Guyger was arrested on a manslaughter charge on Sept. 9, three days after the shooting. But it was up to the grand jury this week to decide what charge she would face, or if she would be indicted at all.
It’s still unclear exactly what happened the night Guyger shot Jean, a native of St. Lucia who worked as an accountant for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas.
Guyger, who had lived in the unit directly below Jean at the South Side Flats, told authorities she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own after parking on the wrong garage level at the complex, an arrest warrant affidavit said. Once at Jean’s apartment, she said she thought Jean was an intruder and fired her weapon.
The two accounts of the shooting – an arrest warrant affidavit written by the Texas Rangers, who arrested Guyger on the manslaughter charge, and a search warrant affidavit written by a Dallas police detective, who was investigating the case before the Rangers took over – offered slightly different details.
The arrest warrant affidavit said Guyger found Jean’s front door “slightly ajar,” and then opened it by pushing a key into the door. When she opened the door fully, Guyger saw a “large silhouette” across the room and began giving commands, which Jean “ignored,” the affidavit said.
The search warrant affidavit from the Dallas police detective also said that Jean’s door was open when Guyger inserted a key but that Jean “confronted the officer at the door.” A neighbor told police that he “heard an exchange of words, immediately followed by at least two gunshots,” the search warrant affidavit said.
Neither affidavit detailed how close, specifically, Guyger and Jean were to each other during the encounter.
After more than two weeks of protests calling for termination, Guyger was fired from the Dallas Police Department on Sept. 24.
Prosecutors from District Attorney Faith Johnson’s office presented the case to the grand jury this week. District Attorney-elect John Creuzot, who will take office in January, told 18 Karat Reggae earlier this month that he believed murder is “the most appropriate charge” for Guyger, based on his knowledge of the case.
Jean’s family was in Dallas this week as the grand jury proceedings unfolded. On Sunday, his mother, Allison Jean, talked with 18 Karat Reggae about her struggle to find answers.
”You see, the one person who cannot speak is Botham,” she said. “He’s the one that I would have depended on for the answers.”
The Jean family has filed a lawsuit against Guyger and city officials, including Police Chief Renee Hall.
The lawsuit laid out a lengthy narrative of the incident, alleging that Guyger “unlawfully shot and killed Jean without any warning, although she was not in imminent danger and when less deadly alternatives were available.”
“By simply following proper police procedures and the best police practices and not the protocol of
the DPD to ‘shoot first and ask questions later,’ Defendant Guyger would have not shot Jean,” the lawsuit said.