Skip to content

Grand jury indicts Dallas cop who shot and killed Botham Jean

Botham Shem Jean and former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger. (Image source: Facebook/Botham Shem Jean; and Amber Guyger/Dallas Sheriff’s Office.)

Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who wrongly entered the apartment of an innocent, unarmed Black man before shooting him to death in his own home, was charged with murder by a Dallas grand jury on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, the Dallas Morning News reports.

The decision comes after the grand jury met for three days this week beginning Monday. This amplified tensions in the city and among Jean’s family because of the length of time it took the jury to reach a decision. The panel reportedly decided that the manslaughter charges Guyger was initially facing were not strong enough for the fatal shooting back in September.

Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall eventually terminated Guyger, who was initially arrested for manslaughter in the shooting death of Jean, 26, in September. The Texas Rangers stepped in and told Hall to hold up on her investigation because they had new information and wanted to question Guyger about it before any charges were filed.

Guyger, 30, told investigators with the state police that she had just concluded her 15-hour shift that Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, when she returned in uniform to the South Side Flats apartment complex. On that night, she parked on the fourth floor and not on the third floor where she normally parked, according to the affidavit. This was to suggest that Guyger was confused or disoriented.

Guyger said when she put her key in the apartment door, it was unlocked and slightly ajar, according to her affidavit. She told police that the lights were off inside, and she saw a figure in the darkness that cast a large silhouette across the room.

Guyger told police that she immediately believed her apartment was being burglarized and ordered the figure to halt, but she said the figure ignored her commands. Guyger said that is when she discharged her firearm twice at Jean, the affidavit said.

She called 911 and, when asked where she was, returned to the front door to discover she was in the wrong unit, according to the affidavit. The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office said Jean died of gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the four-year police officer’s version of the events were met with widespread skepticism. Videos posted on social media by neighbors appeared to show that apartment doors in the building shut automatically, which seemed to indicate that Guyger was lying.

The community was outraged at the shooting and how Guyger’s story seemed to change several times. They also were incensed that Guyger was not charged until three days after the Sept. 6 shooting, giving her ample time to scrub her social media accounts and get her story straight before turning herself in.

Today, the news of the grand jury’s decision to charge Guyger with murder gives hope to Jean’s family that Guyger may not get off easy for her alleged crimes. If convicted, Guyger could spend the rest of her life in prison.

However, according to CNN, murder charges against police officers are notoriously hard to prosecute. There are approximately 1,000 police shootings every year in America, but officers are rarely brought to trial.

CNN stated that only 80 cops were arrested on murder or manslaughter charges for on-duty shootings between 2005 and April 2017. Moreover, only 35 percent of those arrests led to convictions in that 12-year period.

Jean grew up on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and migrated to the United States to attend Harding University in Arkansas. Afterward, he moved to Dallas for a job at PwC as an accountant. Jean’s family chose his apartment complex specifically because they were told he would be safer there than in other parts of the city, especially with the police station just down the street.

Jean had hoped to return to St. Lucia one day and run for prime minister.