Jury Convicts Ex-Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Neighbor

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Fired Dallas police officer Amber Guyger leaves the courtroom after a jury found her guilty of murder Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, in Dallas. Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean, an unarmed 26-year-old neighbor in his own apartment last year. She told police she thought his apartment was her own and that he was an intruder. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

DALLAS (AP) — A white former Dallas police officer who said she fatally shot her unarmed, black neighbor after mistaking his apartment for her own was found guilty of murder on Tuesday.

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A jury reached the verdict in Amber Guyger’s high-profile trial for the killing of Botham Jean after six days of witness testimony but just a handful of hours of deliberation.

Cheers erupted in the courthouse as the verdict was announced, and someone yelled “Thank you, Jesus!” In the hallway outside the courtroom where Guyger was tried, a crowd celebrated and said “black lives matter” in raised voices. When the prosecutors walked into the hall, they broke into cheers.

Guyger sat alone, weeping, at the defense table.

In Texas, the sentence for murder is from five to 99 years in prison. The jury is expected to return Tuesday afternoon for the punishment phase of the trial.

The basic facts of the unusual shooting were not in dispute throughout the trial. In September 2018, Guyger walked up to Jean’s apartment — which was on the fourth floor, directly above hers on the third — and found the door unlocked. She was off duty but still dressed in her police uniform after a long shift when she shot Jean with her service weapon. The 26-year-old accountant had been eating a bowl of ice cream before Guyger entered his home.

Jean, who grew up in the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia, came to the U.S. for college before starting his career as an accountant. His shooting drew widespread attention because of the strange circumstances and because it was one in a string of shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers.

“A 26-year-old college-educated black man, certified public accountant, working for one of the big three accounting firms in the world … it shouldn’t take all of that for unarmed black and brown people in America to get justice,” Benjamin Crump, one of the lawyer’s for Jean’s family, said at a news conference.

Crump said the verdict honors other people of color who were killed by police officers who were not convicted of a crime.

Attorney Lee Merritt, who also represents the family, underlined Crump’s words.

“This is a huge victory, not only for the family of Botham Jean, but this is a victory for black people in America. It’s a signal that the tide is going to change here. Police officers are going to be held accountable for their actions, and we believe that will begin to change policing culture around the world,” Merritt said.

The jury that convicted Guyger was largely made up of women and people of color.

Guyger was arrested three days after the killing. She was later fired and charged with murder , but only spoke publicly about the shooting upon taking the witness stand last Friday. Tension has been high during the trial in Dallas, the same city where an attack three years ago killed five police officers.

The 31-year-old tearfully apologized for killing Jean and told the jurors she feared for her life upon finding the door to what she thought was her apartment unlocked. Guyger said that Jean came toward her at a fast walk when she entered with her gun out, but prosecutors have suggested he was just rising from a couch toward the back of the room when the officer shot him.

In a frantic 911 call played repeatedly during the trial, Guyger said “I thought it was my apartment” nearly 20 times. Her lawyers argued that the identical physical appearance of the apartment complex from floor to floor frequently led to tenants to the wrong apartments.

Prosecutors, however, questioned how Guyger could have missed numerous signs that she was in the wrong place, and suggested she was distracted by sexually explicit phone messages with her police partner.

They also asked why Guyger didn’t radio in for help when she thought there was a break-in at her home. Guyger said that going through the doorway with her pistol drawn, “was the only option that went through my head.”


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12 Comments
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PaulinSaudi
PaulinSaudi
4 years ago

That did not take a lot of time. The case is open-and-shut.

Litvak
Litvak
4 years ago

Disgusting. This WHITE woman will have to sit in prison for making a simple mistake on a BLACK.
WHERE IS JUSTICE??

Circle
Circle
4 years ago

What did the prosecutor present as a motive?

Nachum
Nachum
4 years ago

This female ex-cop was reckless, and stupid. Whereas she made a mistake by going to the wrong apartment, she reacted like Annie Oakley (from the wild west), and started shooting. The guy whom she killed was a CPA, who had a legal right to be in his own apartment. The prosecutor stated that she lied, when she claimed “Let me see your hands”. He stated that she opened fire immediately. In Texas, if you do the crime, you do the time. This ex-cop probably will be sentenced to no less than 20 years, if she is lucky.

Sollll
Sollll
4 years ago

This wss a mistake! The jury was made up of people of color and ahe was white what else can u expect.

HeshyEmes
HeshyEmes
4 years ago

I have to agree with some of the posters here. Had this not been turned into a Racial circus, and had she tossed to the wolves as a sacrificial lamb (with a jury of people of color) she never would have been convicted of murder. Negligent Homicide, yes; but murder??? What motive did she have? Political drivel, she was sacrificed to keep the peace, so the blacks shouldn’t riot. Disgusting.

Looking at the law
Looking at the law
4 years ago

She killed him on purpose. In Texas that is murder.

She had no reasonable excuse to kill him. In Texas that is murder.

He was eating ice cream in his own house and an intruder walks in and shoots him.
In Texas that is murder.

Nachum
Nachum
4 years ago

I agree 100% with “Looking at the Law”. This was not NYC, where a cop would get away with such a heinous crime. In Texas, people are held accountable. The prosecutors showed that Amber Guyger had ample opportunities to have known that she was on the wrong floor, and was entering the wrong apartment. Also, they showed that according to the proper protocol of the Dallas Police Dept., if a cop suspected that a burglary is in progress, he/she was supposed to call for backup, and not go in shooting. The jury was correct in not convicting the ex-cop of manslaughter, as it was murder. Her own testimony on the witness stand cooked her goose, when she stated that “she intended to kill him”. She never gave the guy a chance to surrender, but immediately opened fire. The poor victim was not a street thug, but a highly educated CPA. He had more intelligence than the uneducated commentators on this site, who tired to make a race issue out of this. If I’m in my home, minding my own business, I would not want a cop walking into my house, and start shooting. Justice was served in this case. Ms. Guyger is going to be sentenced to prison for a long time. As I previously stated, in Texas, if you do the crime, you do the time; case closed.

The_Truth
The_Truth
4 years ago

This could have unfortunately happened to anyone, in similar situation; you walk into what you think is your own home and find an intruder – you act on instincts, if you carry a weapon, it may be to draw it, BUT this is a trained cop, who should know better than to just fire a weapon a point blank range. There are procedures for every situation. She didn’t follow any of them or show any restraint.