Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger, who fatally shot 26-year-old Botham Jean in his Cedars apartment, was fired Monday — days after Police Chief U. Renee Hall said doing so would compromise the criminal investigation.
Police said in a news release that Hall fired Guyger after an internal investigation found the officer had engaged in “adverse conduct” when she was charged with manslaughter three days after the shooting.
Guyger’s firing was lauded by the mayor — who called it “the right decision in the interest of justice” — and others who have been calling for her termination for weeks. Guyger has been on administrative leave since the shooting and is free, as she awaits trial, on a $300,000 bond.
Guyger shot Jean, her upstairs neighbor, the night of Sept. 6. She told authorities she mistook his apartment for her own and believed Jean, who was unarmed, was a burglar. Lee Merritt, an attorney for Jean’s family, has cast doubt on Guyger’s version of events.
Hall’s decision to fire Guyger came after widespread calls for action and protests. Her employment status even became an issue in the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Beto O’Rourke. The latter, a Democrat, had called for her firing, while Cruz had said O’Rourke was rushing to judgment.
Guyger is allowed to appeal the decision under civil service rules, police said.
The announcement of Guyger’s firing came shortly before Hall stepped into a City Council Public Safety & Criminal Justice Committee hearing. The only discussion of the firing during the meeting came when council member Kevin Felder said he had heard Guyger had been fired and asked the chief to confirm.
“That is a true statement,” Hall said, without elaboration.
Hall’s decision to fire the officer seemed to contradict statements she had made in recent days about why she hadn’t yet fired Guyger.
The chief said at a town hall on Tuesday that she couldn’t fire Guyger before an internal investigation was completed because of federal, state and local laws. She didn’t specify to which laws she was referring. Hall’s chief of staff, Thomas Taylor, had said the internal investigation was on hold until a criminal investigation into Guyger was complete.
On Thursday, Hall released a statement saying she didn’t want to risk interfering with a criminal investigation by making a decision about Guyger’s employment.