A grand jury indicted a fired white Dallas police officer on a murder charge Friday for fatally shooting her unarmed black neighbor after mistakenly entering his apartment, a killing that triggered national outrage and claims of police racial bias.
Officer Amber Guyger, who was employed on the force at the time of the shooting and was in full uniform, said she mistook the neighbor’s apartment for her own and thought 26-year-old Botham Jean was a burglar.
Guyger told investigators that after finishing her shift, she returned home and parked on the fourth floor of her apartment complex’s garage, rather than the third floor, where her unit was located, according to an affidavit prepared by the Texas Rangers.
She said she got to what she thought was her apartment – Jean’s was directly above hers – and found the door ajar. She opened it to find a figure standing in the darkness. She said she pulled her gun and fired twice after the person ignored her commands.
The circumstances of the shooting sparked outrage and led many to question Guyger’s account of what happened. Critics, including Jean’s family, also wondered why it took three days for Guyger to be charged, why she wasn’t taken into custody immediately after the shooting and whether race played a factor in her decision to use deadly force.
Responding to criticism that the original manslaughter charge was too lenient, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said the grand jury could decide on the more serious charge of murder, which it did.
Guyger had been terminated from the force by Police Chief U. Renee Hall. An internal investigation revealed Guyger “engaged in adverse conduct when she was arrested for manslaughter’’ three days after the Sept. 6 shooting of Jean.