The white Texas cop who shot dead a black man in his own apartment claims that he ignored her ‘verbal commands.’
Officer Amber Guyger told the authorities she was returning from a 15 hour shift when she had mistaken her neighbor’s four floor apartment at South Side Flats, in Dallas, for her own home on the third floor on Thursday.
Entering the darkened apartment, the door to which she has since claimed was slightly ajar, she told police she mistook 26-year-old resident Botham Jean for a burglar and shot him in the chest. He was later transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
But the family of Jean say they still have a lot of questions over Guyger’s story and the death of their son.
Botham Jean, 26, (left) was shot dead by Officer Guyger (right) in his apartment in south Dallas on Thursday night. Guyger said she entered the apartment thinking it was her own
Jean’s 15-year-old brother Grant and mother Allison (center) mourn with other churchgoers at a prayer service at the Dallas West Church of Christ on Sunday
Lawyers for the family questioned why it took three days for Guyger to be charged after the fatal shooting on Thursday.
One said Guyger should have been in handcuffs the night of the shooting, but she was only booked on a manslaughter charge Sunday night.
They also wondered why, based on news reports of what happened, Guyger was so quick to use deadly force.
The affidavit says Guyger only realized she was in the wrong apartment during the 911 call when she turned on the light. It states that Guyger’s apartment was directly below Jean’s and the apartment layouts and exterior hallways were nearly identical.
Investigator David Armstrong of the Texas Rangers said gained access to her neighbor’s apartment because, when she inserted her key in his door, it opened because it had been slightly ajar.
He says Guyger said the person ignored her verbal commands and she fired twice. One struck Jean in the chest and he later died.
Dallas Police Officer Amber Renee Guyger, 30, was booked into Kaufman County Jail at 7.20pm on Sunday on a charge of manslaughter in the Thursday shooting of 26-year-old Botham Jean, jail records show.
Guyger posted bond of $300,000 and was released by 8.30pm. Kaufman deputies allowed her to leave by the rear of the jail, avoiding the gathered press, rather than the front of the building as is typical for bonded inmates, according to local reports
However, the case will be presented to a grand jury, which could decide on more serious charges than manslaughter.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Matas says that three different investigators told him to warn Guyger to stay away from her apartment for her own safety, Fox 4 Dallas reports.
The group Mothers Against Police Brutality said the arrest is a “first step” toward justice and accountability.
In Texas, the penalty for a manslaughter conviction is between two and 20 years in prison.
The Texas Rangers, who took over the investigation on Friday, said the investigation is ongoing and declined to offer further information about the case. The Rangers, a law enforcement group equivalent to state police, ran the investigation to avoid the appearance of any potential bias, Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall said at a press conference on Friday.
Guyger’s booking record, which was removed in less than an hour when she made bail, is seen
Allison Jean raises her hands in the air as she leans on her son, Grant during a prayer service for her son and Grant’s brother Botham Jean at the Dallas West Church of Christ on Sunday
Earlier on Sunday, Jean’s mother Allison and 15-year-old brother Grant mourned his death at an emotional prayer service at Dallas West Church of Christ.
The congregation paid tribute to Jean, a consultant who was active in the church’s ministry service, by signing his favorite hymn: My God Is Real.
Later Sunday, the family held a press conference at 7pm demanding Guyger’s arrest, apparently unaware that she had already been arrested in Kaufman County at 6.37pm and was en route to booking.
Jean’s family has hired attorney Benjamin Crump, who is best known for representing the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
The perplexing shooting unfolded at about 9.59pm on Thursday, when Guyger had just gotten off of a full shift.
According to Guyger, she mistakenly entered the wrong apartment in the complex where she lived, thinking it was her home, and had some kind of confrontation with Jean that ended with her shooting the man with her service weapon.
Guyger, who was in uniform, immediately called 911 to report that she had been involved in a shooting, investigators said.
Police and paramedics administered aid at the scene, and Jean was rushed to an area hospital, where he was declared dead.
The immediate aftermath of the shooting was captured in footage posted by a neighbor, showing a female uniformed officer crying into her phone on a walkway of the apartment block.
She is heard screaming ‘oh God!’ into the phone before she dashes away out of view.
Moments later, the victim is pulled past on a gurney as medics desperately try to revive him. Four officers follow directly behind and another runs to catch up.
New footage from the aftermath of the deadly shooting of 26-year-old Botham Jean by a female cop on Thursday shows a police woman crying into her phone after the incident
After the woman police officer walks away, medics come by with Jean on a trolley as they frantically try to revive him
Guyger has been tested for drugs and alcohol but results are not immediately available, according to Police Chief Renee Hall.
Hall declined to speculate as to whether fatigue or other factors, including race, may have factored into the shooting.
‘Right now, there are more questions than we have answers,’ Hall told a news conference. She said she spoke to Jean’s sister to express the department’s condolences to the family.
Dallas police on Saturday revealed Guyger had worked for Dallas Police Department for four years on the Southeast Patrol Division.
‘She is devastated,’ a Dallas police officer close to Guyger told Dallas News. ‘She is so, so sorry for this family.’
Guyger, the sole woman on a elite crime response team of 10 officers who make high-risk arrests, shot another man in 2017 – that time a suspect who had taken her Taser.
Uvaldo Perez, 47, was hit once in the abdomen, but survived and was sentenced to two years on drugs charges. Guyger was found justified in that shooting.
The policewoman moved into the South Side Flats about a month ago but had never met Jean. According to police, she returned home in her uniform after a shift and then called dispatch to say she had shot a man.
She later told the officers who responded that she believed the victim’s apartment was her own when she entered.
The responding officers administered first aid to Jean, a native of the Caribbean island country of St Lucia who attended Harding University in Arkansas and worked for accounting and consulting firm PwC. Jean was taken to a hospital, where he died.
The apartment complex is just a few streets from Dallas police headquarters.
Jean grew up on the Caribbean Island of St Lucia and studied at Harding University in Arkansas. He is seen above in a Facebook photo
Officials believe Guyger was confronted by Jean, who pulled her gun on him and fired. He is pictured in a Facebook photo, left, and leading a college service on September 21, 2017
Residents of the building said they can access their units with a key or through a keypad code. It is unclear whether Jean’s apartment door was locked at the time of the incident.
Jeffrey Scherzer, who lives at the complex, said when he returned home late at night an officer escorted him to his flat and warned him to steer clear of a blood trail.
Jean’s mother, Allison, suggested in an interview on Friday that her son might still be alive if he were white. Jean is black and Guyger is white.
‘I didn’t know she was white until now. If it was a white man would it have been different? Would she have reacted differently?’ she told KXAS.
Allison, who has held government posts in St. Lucia, where she lives and where her son grew up, said her son’s death ‘just feels like a nightmare.’
State Senator Royce West also raised the racial aspect of the shooting, telling a press conference on Saturday: ‘Is this a white on black crime? Yes,’ he said, according to the Star-Telegram.
‘It was a white, female Dallas police officer who shot and killed a person from St. Lucia of African descent.
‘Is this a race-related crime? Don’t know. I would hold any type of decision you make on what happened until all of the facts come in.’
West said Guyger entered the apartment through an open door: ‘We need to find out whether there was a personal relationship,’ he said. ‘There are so many facts that need to be looked at before determining what kind of homicide this is.’
Jean was remembered as a devout Christian who regularly led worship when he was at Harding University, a private Christian institution
Jean graduated from Harding University in 2016, and is pictured speaking speaking there in 2014
St. Lucia’s government issued a statement Friday expressing ‘shock’ at the killing and extending condolences to the Jean family. It said officials at its embassy in the US would provide assistance to the family.
Harding University said on Friday Jean often led campus worship services while he was a student.
Family and friends described Jean as a devout Christian and a talented singer. His uncle Ignatius Jean said the slaying left relatives devastated and looking for answers.
‘You want to think it’s fiction… and you have to grapple with the reality,’ he said.
Jean’s sister, Allisa Charles-Findley, said she needs ‘answers for my baby brother.’
‘Just last week I was thinking of what to get you for your birthday,’ she wrote on Facebook, ‘now I have to go pick out your casket.’
Officer Guyger said she mistakenly walked into Jean’s apartment (pictured on Thursday from the street) thinking it was her own
The shooting happened just before 10pm Thursday at the South Side Flats in south Dallas
Neighbor Alyssa Kinsey told The Dallas Morning News that Jean helped her move new furniture into her apartment soon after she moved into the building with her family in April.
‘I’ll remember his smile,’ she said. ‘It just lit up a room.’
Nathan Monan, a friend from Harding University, said Botham Jean was kind to everybody and would often lead people in song during chapel.
‘He lived what he spoke,’ Monan said, adding that Jean’s death has stirred emotions of overwhelming sadness and anger. ‘This doesn’t make sense to anybody right now.’
A YouTube video posted in 2014 shows Jean making his pitch to become the university’s student association president.
‘I want to serve,’ he says in the video. ‘My Harding experience has really inspired me to want to serve and I want every student at Harding to have the best Harding experience possible.’