Judge Says Botham Jean's Family Can't Sue PD Because It Wasn't A Police Shooting
Dallas, TX – A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the Dallas Police Department by the family of the man who was killed in his own apartment by former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn ruled on Dec. 23, 2019 that the city of Dallas could not be held liable for the off-duty shooting that left 26-year-old Botham Jean dead, CBS News reported.
In her ruling, the judge said that she was upholding a magistrate’s prior decision because the lawsuit failed "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."
A jury convicted Guyger of murder on Oct. 1, 2019 after only five hours of deliberation.
The same jury sentenced her a day later to 10 years in prison.
The former police officer had been facing up to 99 years in prison for the crime.
Guyger was initially arrested on a manslaughter charge on Sept. 9, three days after she fatally shot Jean in his apartment.
Then-Officer Guyger was off-duty and returning home from work just after 10 p.m. on Sept. 6 when the incident occurred.
After having worked 14 hours serving warrants in high crime areas of the city, the 30-year-old officer parked on the wrong floor of the parking garage adjacent to her apartment building, WCAU reported.
The arrest affidavit said the garage levels correspond with the floors in the apartment complex. Officer Guyger lives on the 3rd Floor of the Southside Flats apartment complex, and should have parked on the 3rd floor where her apartment was.
But the off-duty officer parked on the 4th floor of the parking garage and proceeded into the building, where she went to the door of the apartment she believed to be her own and inserted her key.
The door to Jean’s apartment hadn’t shut and locked completely, and opened for Guyger.
She saw Jean inside the dark apartment and believed him to be a robber.
When he did not respond to her commands and came toward her, Guyger fatally shot him.
The former police officer didn’t realized she wasn’t in her own apartment until she turned on the lights after calling 911 for an ambulance.
Guyger maintained throughout her trial that she had done everything possible to save Jean after she mistakenly shot him, but the jury believed otherwise.
Prosecutors had pointed to text messages that the former police officer sent to her married lover, who was also a police officer, before medics arrived to render aid and said Guyger should have been utilizing the materials in her trauma kit to save Jean rather than texting her angst to a boyfriend.
The lawsuit filed by the family against the Dallas police alleged that Jean would still be alive if not for the shoddy training Guyger received from the police department, CBS News reported.
"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 family’s suit claimed, according to the Dallas Morning News.
"Essentially, Officer Guyger was ill-trained, and as a result, defaulted to the defective DPD policy: to use deadly force even when there existed no immediate threat of harm to themselves or others," the lawsuit read.
The judge’s decision wasn’t a surprise as legal experts had predicted the outcome, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Although Guyger was still in her Dallas police uniform when she shot Botham with her duty weapon, she was off-duty and not acting in a police capacity when the shooting occurred.
Legal experts said the fact that she was off-duty at the time of the incident would make the success of any lawsuit against the police department unlikely, the Dallas Morning News reported.