Manslaughter Dropped; Grand Jury Indicts Ex-Dallas Cop Amber Guyger For Murder
Dallas, TX – A Dallas grand jury indicted former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger for murder on Friday.
Guyger was initially arrested on a manslaughter charge on Sept. 9, three days after she fatally shot 26-year-old Botham Jean in his apartment.
On Friday, District Attorney Faith Johnson held a press conference to announce the grand jury’s decision, and said that her office had been instrumental in getting the charges against the former police officer bumped up to murder.
Surrounded by the victim’s family, Johnson told reporters that the Texas Rangers had filed for manslaughter charges, but her office had known all along that the charge would be murder.
A murder conviction could put Guyger behind bars for life, whereas manslaughter would have carried a maximum penalty of 20 years, the Dallas Morning News reported.
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 affidavit used to get the warrant for the officer’s arrest said the door to the 4th Floor apartment was not completely shut. It’s been reported that the Southside Flats apartments use a keycard entry system.
“She inserted a unique door key, with an electronic chip, into the door key hole,” the affidavit said. “The door, which was slightly ajar prior to Guyger’s arrival, fully opened under the force of the key insertion.”
The sound of the door opening alerted Jean, who was home alone in his apartment watching football.
The affidavit said Jean went to see what was going on at his front door.
Officer Guyger told investigators she saw the silhouette of someone in what she believed to be her own apartment, and drew her firearm, WCAU reported. The affidavit said she believed she was being robbed.
She gave verbal commands that were ignored by Jean, according to the affidavit. Then she fired her weapon in the dark at the person twice, striking him once.
The arrest affidavit said it wasn’t until Officer Guyger was already on the phone with 911, that she reached to turn on the lights and she realized she was not in her own apartment.
She went into the hall and checked the address on the door, and confirmed for the dispatchers that she was in unit 1478, one floor above her own apartment, WCAU reported.
Jean was transported to Baylor Medical Center in Dallas where he later died.
The Texas Rangers investigated and issued an arrest warrant three days after the shooting, and Officer Guyger surrendered to authorities at the Kaufman County Sheriff's Department.
She was released on a $300,000 bail about two hours later, the Star-Telegram reported.
Grand jurors heard evidence in the case on Monday and Wednesday, and then returned to vote on Friday, the Dallas Morning News reported.
There was no indication the former police officer’s bail had been increased as a result of the indictment.
Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall announced that Guyger had been fired from the police force on Sept. 24, but not for the shooting.
“An Internal Affairs investigation concluded that on September 9, 2018, Officer Guyger, # 10702, engaged in adverse conduct when she was arrested for Manslaughter,” the chief’s statement read.
That statement appears to refer to some action taken by then-Officer Guyger on the day of her arrest.
The firing came after two weeks of protests in the city, and widespread calls for the chief to terminate Officer Guyger’s employment with the Dallas Police Department (DPD).
The chief had said she couldn't fire Guyger for the shooting itself until the investigation was complete.
She was fired on the same day that Botham was buried in his native St. Lucia, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The case has been assigned to state District Judge Tammy Kemp.
Court records showed that on Friday, Kemp ordered Guyger to surrender her passport and not leave the state without approval, the Dallas Morning News reported.