Amber Guyger, the Dallas police officer who killed 26-year-old Botham Jean in his apartment in September, is now facing a murder charge.
Local news outlet WFAA reported that a grand jury issued a murder indictment for Guyger on Friday, even though she was initially booked on a manslaughter charge in relation to the Botham Jean shooting in early September. Several weeks after the shooting, the Dallas Police Department announced they had fired Guyger, a five-year veteran officer. District Attorney-elect John Creuzot, who will assume office in January, said he felt the murder charge was “appropriate.”
The shooting took place when Guyger — who lived one floor below Botham Jean — walked into Jean’s apartment (just a few blocks away from the Dallas Police Department), telling investigators she mistakenly thought it was her own. She attested to seeing the door ajar and a silhouette moving in the apartment, and thought Jean was an intruder in her home. She shouted commands, and then fired on him when he “ignored” her commands.
However, S. Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Jean family told reporters that Guyger’s account of the shooting made no sense. He mentioned that the door wouldn’t have been ajar, because doors in that particular apartment building close automatically.
“[The door] wouldn’t have been open,” Merritt told CNN. “What the family knows, what all the friends know, what everyone I’ve talked to about Botham knows is that he wouldn’t have propped that door open.”
In the CNN interview, Merritt mentioned that the confrontation with Botham Jean may have been due to a noise complaint, saying there were noise complaints called in on Jean’s apartment the same day he was shot. Merritt also cast doubt on Guyger’s insistence that she thought Jean’s apartment was hers, saying two witnesses told him that they heard her knocking on the door, saying, “open up, let me in,” before hearing gunshots.
“[T]he voice didn’t sound like an officer command; it sounded like someone who wanted to be let into the apartment,” Merritt said, describing what a witness told him.
Botham Jean was a native of the island of St. Lucia, and worked as an accountant at the firm PriceWaterHouseCoopers. He was also a worship leader at his local church.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.