A Texas grand jury on Friday returned a murder indictment for Amber Guyger, the 30-year-old former Dallas police officer who shot and killed her black neighbor in his own apartment, the district attorney announced Friday.
Guyger was arrested and charged with manslaughter on Sept. 9, three days after she fatally shot 26-year-old Botham Jean as he was watching television in his apartment in South Side Flats, a complex where she also lived.
Guyger, who was off duty but in uniform at the time of the shooting, told authorities that she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own and thought he was an intruder.
On the night of Sept. 6, Guyger, who lived in the apartment directly below Jean’s residence, parked on the fourth floor of the parking garage instead of the third floor where she resided. She then walked down the fourth-floor hall into Jean’s unit, telling investigators that she used her electronic key to open the door to what she thought was her apartment.
According to the arrest warrant, Jean’s door had been slightly ajar, so while Guyger’s key did not unlock the door, the force of inserting the key pushed the door open into the darkened apartment.
“Believing she had encountered a burglar, which was described as a large silhouette across the room in her apartment; Guyger drew her firearm,” according to the arrest warrant.
Guyger told investigators that she gave Jean verbal commands before firing twice. It is unclear what those commands were or how much time passed between her issuing the commands and firing her weapon.
The case was filed by the Texas Rangers, who originally charged Guyger with manslaughter. However, the Dallas County district attorney, Faith Johnson, said Friday that her office believed “it was murder all along.”
Johnson said her office spoke to more than 300 witnesses and presented the case to the grand jury this month, which returned an indictment for murder, not manslaughter. There was no action on the manslaughter charge filed by the Texas Rangers, Johnson said.
The district attorney said that she believes Guyger “knowingly and intentionally” shot Jean, which meets the standard for a murder charge.
Jean’s family sued Guyger and the city of Dallas, arguing she used excessive force and that she was not adequately trained.
Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, told reporters on Friday that she knew “from the start that [Guyger] murdered him.”
“I truly believe that she inflicted tremendous evil on my son,” Allison Jean said. “He didn’t deserve it. He was seated in his own apartment. He felt safe in that apartment. He was violated by her coming in and murdering him,” she said.
“I have no choice but to believe that she did it intentionally,” Allison Jean told BuzzFeed News’ AM to DM in September.
Police Chief U. Reneé Hall said in a statement that the department recognizes and understands the national discord “regarding the relationship between law enforcement and the communities we serve.”
“We have developed the framework for policy change, have supported the restructuring of the Citizen Review Board, pushed to exceed the basic requirements of implicit bias training, and have relied on input from our employee advisory and community advisory boards,” Hall added. “We have more work to do and we remain committed to improving our relationships throughout the city.”