News, Culture & Society

Trial begins for ex-Dallas cop Amber Guyger who shot neighbor in his home

Ex-Dallas cop Amber Guyger was allegedly texting her police partner while she was on the phone to 911 to report that had shot her neighbor before deleting the messages in the hours that followed.     

The 31-year-old is on trial for the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Botham Jean last year after she said she mistakenly entered his apartment thinking it was her own.  

During opening statements on Monday, prosecutors said that Guyger was in a sexual relationship with her police partner Martin Rivera and that she had texted him to say ‘I’m f**ked’ and that she needed him in the minutes after she shot Jean.

She allegedly sent the two text messages to her partner while she was simultaneously on the phone to 911 as Jean was bleeding to death on his floor.

Prosecutors said Guyger had also been speaking on the phone to her partner just moments before the shooting, had sent him sexually explicit texts and Snapchats earlier in the day and had made plans to meet up with him later that night. 

Guyger deleted the text messages in the hours after the fatal shooting, according to prosecutors.  

Amber Guyger, 31, arrived in court on Monday morning to stand trial for the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Botham Jean last year after allegedly mistakenly entering his apartment thinking it was her own

Amber Guyger

Botham Jean

Guyger was charged with first-degree murder in Botham Jean’s death, which is punishable under Texas law with up to life in prison 

Dallas County assistant district attorney Jason Hermus, who said Guyger’s partner would testify in the trial, argued that the messages were relevant to showing her mental state before and after the shooting.

The defense, however, had earlier argued that the material was not relevant and could be prejudicial. 

Hermus told jurors that Guyger had worked a long day but that it was primarily office work.

He said there was no evidence that Jean ever posed a threat to Guyger. 

Hermus called Jean ‘a wonderful, decent, kind man’ and said that he was eating a bowl of vanilla ice cream when Guyger entered his apartment. 

Prosecutors tried to poke holes in Guyger’s argument that she thought she had entered her own apartment and that Jean was an intruder. 

Hermus pointed out that view from the parking garage was different, the door numbers were wrong and that Jean had a bright red door mat outside his apartment.   

The case has attracted intense scrutiny for its strange circumstances and as one in a chain of shootings of black men by white police officers.

Lawyers for Guyger are likely to argue she fired in self-defense based on the mistaken belief that she was in her own apartment and that Jean, an accountant from the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia, was a burglar. 

The case may hang on whether the jury believes that this was a reasonable mistake. Twelve jurors and four alternatives were selected to hear the case earlier this month but their demographics aren’t yet public.  

Guyger was off duty but still in uniform when she shot Jean in his home on the evening of September 6, 2018. 

Allison Jean (right) the mother of Botham Jean and Botham's brother Brandt Jean (left) arrive for the murder trial of former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger in Dallas on Monday

Allison Jean (right) the mother of Botham Jean and Botham’s brother Brandt Jean (left) arrive for the murder trial of former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger in Dallas on Monday

She told investigators that after a 15-hour shift she parked on the fourth floor of her apartment complex’s garage – rather than the third floor where she lived – and found the apartment’s door ajar. 

Believing she was at her own apartment and seeing a silhouette of a figure who didn’t respond to verbal commands, Guyger said she fired two shots, killing him.

‘I thought it was my apartment,’ she said nearly 20 times in a 911 emergency call as she waited for emergency responders to arrive.

‘I’m an off-duty officer. I thought I was in my apartment and I shot a guy thinking he was, thinking it was my apartment.’

Throughout the five minute phone call, Guyger cursed, cried and urged Jean to stay alive. 

‘I’m f****d. Oh my God. I’m sorry,’ she could be heard saying. 

Throughout the call, she also spoke to Jean, called him ‘bud’ and encouraged him to stay alive.  

Prosecutors are expected to grill Guyger on how and why she mistook Jean’s fourth floor apartment for her own on the third floor.

Neighbors had already contradicted her version of events by claiming to have heard arguing before the fatal shooting. 

One neighbor said they heard a woman in the hallway knocking on a door and yelling: ‘Let me in, let me in.’ 

Amber Guyger, 31, shot dead 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean exactly a year ago after allegedly mistakenly entering his apartment thinking it was her own

Amber Guyger, 31, shot dead 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean exactly a year ago after allegedly mistakenly entering his apartment thinking it was her own

Amber Guyger, 31, shot dead 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean exactly a year ago after allegedly mistakenly entering his apartment thinking it was her own

Guyger told investigators she mistakenly entered the apartment of Jean, which was one floor above her own, when she returned home from work on the evening of September 6, 2018

Guyger told investigators she mistakenly entered the apartment of Jean, which was one floor above her own, when she returned home from work on the evening of September 6, 2018

Guyger was off duty but still in uniform when she shot Jean in his home (above) on the evening of September 6, 2018

Guyger was off duty but still in uniform when she shot Jean in his home (above) on the evening of September 6, 2018

Another neighbor then heard gunshots and afterwards claimed to have heard a man shouting: ‘Oh my God. Why did you do that?’ 

Guyger was only arrested 72 hours later and then charged with just manslaughter.

It sparked anger in the African-American community, which saw the case as potentially another one of a white police officer getting off lightly for killing a black man.

The department took two weeks to fire Guyger despite charging her with manslaughter after Botham’s death.

Following the backlash and a grand jury investigation, Guyger was charged with first-degree murder. The charge is punishable under Texas law with up to life in prison.

The jury will have to decide whether Guyger committed murder, a lesser offense such as manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, or no crime at all.   

Jean was a native of St. Lucia who worked in Dallas for an accounting and consulting firm.

He had come to the US in 2011 after winning a place at Harding University in Arkansas.

He studied business administration and accounting and management and graduated in 2016. PwC hired him out of college as a risk assurance associate.

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.