Murder of Botham Jean
On September 6, 2018, off-duty Dallas Police Department patrol officer Amber Guyger entered the Dallas, Texas, apartment of 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean and fatally shot him. Guyger said that she had entered the apartment believing it was her own and that she shot Jean believing he was a burglar. Guyger was not arrested for several days, and then was initially charged with manslaughter, creating mistrust in the process and outrage over the killing of an unarmed African American citizen. It resulted in protests and accusations of racial bias and she was later charged with murder. On October 1, 2019, Guyger was found guilty of murder. The next day, she received a sentence of ten years in prison.
|Date||September 6, 2018|
|Location||Dallas, Texas, United States|
Guyger's apartment was on the third floor, directly below Jean's apartment on the fourth, in an apartment building with mostly identical floor plans on each level. Guyger testified that she thought the apartment was her own, and that she found the door slightly ajar, and she testified that she thought Jean was an intruder in the darkened living room where he was sitting eating ice cream, in an apartment she thought was hers. She claimed she feared Jean would kill her. Jean was unarmed.
After Guyger shot Jean, she called 9-1-1. Jean was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died from his wound. The Texas Rangers investigated the shooting, which led to Guyger's arrest three days later.
Guyger was initially charged with manslaughter, but was later charged with murder. The initial charge of manslaughter and the racial aspect of the shooting resulted in protests in the following days.
Botham Shem Jean
September 29, 1991
|Died||September 6, 2018 (aged 26)|
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Cause of death||Gunshot wound|
|Known for||Murder victim|
Following the shooting, an attorney representing Jean's family accused the Dallas police department of attempting to smear Jean's reputation by publicizing a police affidavit showing that police seized 10.4 grams of marijuana from Jean's apartment. The lawyers also disputed the account of the incident that Guyger told officials, which was recorded in the arrest warrant affidavit, and asserted that two independent witnesses had come forward to give recollections that conflicted with Guyger's account. An attorney for Jean asserted that witnesses claimed they heard knocking on the door to Jean's apartment and that a witness claimed they heard a woman's voice saying "Let me in, let me in."
|Occupation||Former police officer|
|Employer||Dallas Police Department|
|Criminal penalty||10 years in prison|
(5 years non-parole)
|Date||September 6, 2018|
Amber Renée Guyger (born August 9, 1988) was 30 years old at the time of the shooting. She had been on the Dallas police force for almost five years.
On November 30, 2018, Guyger was indicted on murder charges by a Dallas County grand jury. On September 22, 2019, the day before the trial began, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot took part in an interview regarding the trial in spite of a gag order issued by Judge Tammy Kemp in January of that year. After questioning jurors, who reported that they had not seen the interview or other media coverage of the trial, Kemp denied the defense's motion for a mistrial, and sequestered the jury.
Manslaughter charges would have required proof of recklessness, while murder charges require proof that the defendant killed with intent. The prosecutors alleged criminal intent for two reasons: firstly, they said her arrival at the wrong apartment (on the wrong floor) was not caused by tiredness, but rather caused by the conversation she had immediately prior with her lover trying to arrange a meeting that night, and secondly that she did not follow standard police protocol of not entering a building with a potential burglar inside and instead calling for backup from the police station, which was two blocks away.:
On October 1, 2019, Guyger was found guilty of murder. The jury deliberated for six hours to reach the verdict of murder. The jurors also considered the lesser charge of manslaughter. She was the first Dallas police officer to be convicted of murder since the 1973 murder of Santos Rodriguez.
On October 2, 2019, Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison after the jury deliberated for an hour. During the sentencing hearing, Jean's mother Allison provided emotional testimony and some of Guyger's text messages and social media posts that were "racist and offensive" were shared. Jean's younger brother Brandt forgave and hugged Guyger during her sentencing. Jean's father Bertrum also stated that he forgave Guyger but had wanted a stiffer sentence. Trial judge Tammy Kemp, who is also African-American, drew controversy when she embraced Guyger and handed her a Bible, with the Freedom from Religion Foundation criticizing her for alleged proselytizing.
On August 7th, 2020 Guyger's attorneys filed an appeal of the conviction on the grounds "there was insufficient evidence to convict her of murder. The court should either acquit Guyger of that charge, or acquit her of murder, convict her of criminally negligent homicide, and hold a new hearing on the punishment".
On January 31, 2019, ABC News reported that one witness, identified as "Bunny", provided video evidence of the aftermath of the shooting to the Dallas County District Attorney's Office, in addition to publishing it online. She said that as a result of the video, she received harassment and death threats. She also said that the pharmaceutical company she worked at terminated her after various phone calls to the company calling her a "radical", "anti-police" and "a black extremist", and that the company revoked her credentials.[clarification needed]
On October 4, 2019, prosecution witness and Jean's across-the-hall neighbor, Joshua Brown, was shot and killed in an apartment complex parking lot. Contrary to rumors, Brown was not killed at the same apartments where Guyger shot Jean, but rather at another apartment complex he had moved to, about 5 miles (8.0 km) from where Jean and Guyger had lived. Witnesses could not identify the physical features of the shooter or shooters and could only describe the vehicle they drove. On October 8, Dallas Police announced that they had identified three suspects in Brown's killing and had arrested one of them, and that the suspects had been involved in a drug deal with Brown that turned deadly. A search of Brown's apartment yielded 12 pounds (5.4 kg) of marijuana, 143 grams (5.0 oz) of THC cartridges and $4,000 in cash; however, advocates questioned police claims that the three men had traveled 300 miles (480 km) from Alexandria, Louisiana to purchase drugs from Brown, and an attorney representing Brown's family called for an independent investigation by another agency. Dallas Assistant Police Chief Avery Brown denied rumors that Joshua Brown's death was related to Guyger's trial. A second suspect was arrested the next day, and on December 8, all three men were indicted on charges of capital murder, although one of them remained at large.
On January 13, 2021, the Dallas City Council unanimously voted to rename approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) of South Lamar Street from Interstate 30 to South Central Expressway as Botham Jean Boulevard. The street passes Jean's former apartment and Dallas police headquarters.
- "Dallas officer goes home to wrong apartment, kills man inside". Fox 4. September 7, 2018.
- Manna, Nichole (September 13, 2018). "Dallas police officer's arrest affidavit contradicts search warrant for victim's apartment". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
- Ortiz, Erik; Johnson, Alex (October 2, 2019). "Amber Guyger sentenced to 10 years for murdering neighbor Botham Jean". NBC News. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
Guyger is white, and Jean, a native of the island nation of St. Lucia who moved to Dallas for a job with PricewaterhouseCoopers, was black. His death stoked protests, led to Guyger's firing and renewed conversations about police use of force and racial bias.
- Sanchez, Ray (October 2, 2019). "Amber Guyger's offensive text messages are introduced at her sentencing". CNN. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
- Allyn, Bobby (October 1, 2019). "Ex-Dallas Officer Who Killed Man In His Own Apartment Is Found Guilty Of Murder". NPR. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
- "Amber Guyger found guilty of murder at trial in fatal shooting of neighbor Botham Jean". NBC News.
- "Victim's brother hugs ex-cop after sentencing in wrong-apartment murder". ABC News.
- Ortiz, Erik (October 1, 2019). "Amber Guyger Found Guilty of Murder at Trial in Fatal Shooting of Neighbor Botham Jean". NBC News. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
- "Ex-Dallas cop found guilty of murder in neighbor's death". www.cbsnews.com.
- Martinez, Marina Trahan; Mervosh, Sarah; Eligon, John (October 2, 2019). "Former Dallas Police Officer Is Guilty of Murder for Killing Her Neighbor" – via NYTimes.com.
- Donaghue, Erin (October 1, 2019). "Ex-Dallas cop found guilty of murder in neighbor's death". CBS. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
- Emily, Jennifer (September 14, 2018). "Evidence Released in Botham Jean Slaying Prompts Allegations of 'Smear Campaign'". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
- "Dallas Officer Fired for Killing Innocent Man in His Own Apartment". BBC News. September 24, 2018. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
- "Who is Botham Jean? Dallas man shot by police officer was more than his death". WFAA.
- Emily, Jennifer; Smith, LaVendrick; Branham, Dana (October 1, 2019). "Amber Guyger convicted of murder for killing Botham Jean; sentencing phase to continue Wednesday". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on October 2, 2019. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
- "Jurors in Amber Guyger's murder trial watch officers' desperate efforts to revive Botham Jean". Dallas News. September 24, 2019.
- "Dallas police accused of smearing man killed by cop in his own apartment". Retrieved September 14, 2018.
- "Victim's family disputes official account of the moments before Amber Guyger shot Botham Jean". Dallas News. September 10, 2018. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
- "Dallas officer faces manslaughter charge in fatal shooting of neighbor". CBS News.
- "Sources: Fired cop Amber Guyger indicted on a murder charge in Botham Jean killing". WFAA. November 30, 2018. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
- "Sources: Dallas County DA spoke about Amber Guyger case on eve of murder trial — much to judge's dismay". Dallas News. September 23, 2019. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
- Allyn, Bobby (October 1, 2019). "Ex-Dallas Officer Who Killed Man In His Own Apartment Is Found Guilty Of Murder". NPR. Archived from the original on October 1, 2019. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
- "Weeping on the stand, Amber Guyger yells 'keep going!' at the lawyer". September 27, 2019.
Guyger said she mistakenly thought she had parked on her own level in her apartment building's parking garage. 'I kept thinking I was so lucky' for finding a spot next to the entry door, she said, making it easier to carry her gear into her apartment.
- "Amber Guyger sentenced to 10 years for murdering neighbor in his apartment". NBC News.
- Simon, Darran (October 3, 2019). "Botham Jean's brother hugs the former police officer who killed him". CNN. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Knowles, Hannah (October 4, 2019). "Amber Guyger was hugged by her victim's brother and a judge, igniting a debate about forgiveness and race". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Pengelly, Martin (October 4, 2019). "Botham Jean's father: I forgive Amber Guyger but I wanted stiffer sentence". The Guardian. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Chappell, Bill; Gonzales, Richard (October 3, 2019). "Brandt Jean's Act Of Grace Toward His Brother's Killer Sparks A Debate Over Forgiving". National Public Radio. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Clarraidge, Emerson (October 22, 2019). "Former Dallas officer Amber Guyger's defense files notice to appeal murder conviction". Fort Worth Star Telegram. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
- Jacabo, Julia (October 22, 2019). "Attorney for convicted wrong-apartment shooter Amber Guyger files notice of appeal". NBC News. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
- "Attorneys for former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger file appeal in Botham Jean murder case". CNN. August 7, 2020. Retrieved August 10, 2020.
- "Neighbor who filmed wrong apartment shooting aftermath says she's had death threats". ABC News. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
Bunny said her employer let her go, explaining that they 'didn't want their company associated with a high-profile case.' When she threatened to go to the media, they then 'took it a step further' and blacklisted her credentials, which she said they were able to do because she earned the credentials while working for them. Bunny did not reveal the name of the company because she is in the process of appealing the blacklisting of her credentials, she said. ABC News could not independently confirm her claims that she was fired, or, if so, why.
- "Joshua Brown, Prosecution Witness In Amber Guyger Murder Trial, Fatally Shot At Dallas Apartment Complex". October 5, 2019. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
- Wagtendonk, Anya van (October 6, 2019). "Joshua Brown, a key witness in the murder trial against Amber Guyger, was fatally shot". Vox.
- Dwilson, Stephanie Dube (October 6, 2019). "Joshua Brown Shot About 5 Miles from South Side Flats, Where Botham Jean Lived".
- "Witness in Guyger Trial Shot, Killed Friday Night".
- Allyn, Bobby (October 8, 2019). "Dallas Police: Key Witness In Guyger Trial Was Killed In Drug Deal That Turned Deadly". NPR. Washington DC. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
- Shammas, Brittany; Thebault, Reis (October 8, 2019). "Police name suspects, deny wrongdoing in death of Amber Guyger witness Joshua Brown". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
- "Second arrest made in murder of witness in Amber Guyger murder trial". NBC News.
- "3 men indicted on capital murder charges in slaying of Joshua Brown, witness in Amber Guyger's trial". Dallas News. December 8, 2019.
- Bailey, Everton Jr. (January 13, 2021). "Dallas City Council approves renaming street in memory of Botham Jean". The Dallas Morning News. Dallas, Texas. Retrieved January 14, 2021.