Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger found guilty of murder in shooting of Botham Jean
"Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger found guilty of murder in shooting of Botham Jean" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
A Dallas County jury found former police officer Amber Guyger guilty of murder Tuesday morning.
Guyger shot and killed unarmed 26-year-old black man Botham Jean in his own apartment. She said she mistook Jean’s apartment as her own and thought he was a burglar. Guyger, who is white, lived one floor directly below Jean. She was off duty, but still in her uniform when she shot Jean.
Jean's death — and Guyger's subsequent trial — grabbed national attention and sparked a passionate conversation in Dallas about race, policing and gun violence.
The jury reached its decision the day after closing arguments were presented. Guyger's trial now turns to the sentencing phase, and both the Jean and Guyger families will be allowed to testify. In Texas, a murder conviction can result in a sentence ranging from five years to life in prison.
While the shooting sparked national outrage, defense attorneys argued there is no evidence that suggests the shooting was racially motivated. Guyger's defense team described the killing as a "series of horrible mistakes" driven by Guyger's fear for her life, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Though state District Judge Tammy Kemp allowed jurors to consider what's called the "Castle Doctrine," a "stand your ground" type law, the prosecution said self-defense shouldn't apply to Guyger since Jean, who was sitting on his couch eating a bowl of ice cream when Guyger arrived, was not a threat, according to WFAA.
Guyger had other options besides killing Jean and she acted unreasonably by failing to notice she wasn't at her apartment, the prosecution argued during the trial, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The prosecution and defense attorneys had different theories about where Jean was when Guyger shot him. Prosecutors said he was sitting on the couch while the defense attorneys said he was moving toward Guyger when she shot, according to WFAA.
Guyger said she was shocked once she realized she wasn't in her apartment and had shot "an innocent man." The prosecution questioned why she didn't call for backup when she first heard movement inside the apartment. They also questioned how she didn't notice the bright red doormat outside Jean's apartment since her own apartment didn't have a doormat, according to WFAA.
The prosecution added that Guyger seemed more focused on herself than Jean, pointing out that she didn't properly administer CPR. Body-camera footage from when the first officers arrived on the scene showed Guyger was outside Jean's apartment and there was no blood found on Guyger's uniform. Her uniform was collected after the shooting, according to WFAA.
During the 911 call Guyger texted her police partner twice, "I need you ... hurru up" and "I [expletive] up," according to WFAA.
After the decision was reached Lee Merritt, one of the attorneys for the Jean family said in a statement, “Nothing will bring Botham back, but today his family has found some measure of justice. What happened on September 6, 2018, is clear to everyone: This officer saw a black man and shot, without reason and without justification.”
"We believe Botham's life mattered and we want to see a sentence that reflects that," Merritt said.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement that "no single court decision can remedy all that ails our society" and true justice is a result of "deliberate, systematic changes." He added that while the Jean family will never be the same again, the verdict may bring some closure.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins' Statement on the Amber Guyger Guilty Verdict pic.twitter.com/CgOln9SyiS— Judge Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) October 1, 2019
Jolie McCullough contributed reporting.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2019/10/01/amber-guyger-verdict-former-dallas-police-officer-found-guilty-murder/.
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