Friday morning, the world finally heard from Amber Guyger.
In as few words as possible and frequently through tears, the former Dallas Police Department officer described the night she shot Botham Jean. She shot and killed the PriceWaterhouseCoopers accountant, she said, because she feared Jean was going to kill her after she entered his apartment on Sept. 6, 2018, believing that it was her own.
She was relaxed, she said, as she walked from her truck, which she said she inadvertently parked one level above her apartment, to Jean’s door, the one she thought belonged to her. She wasn’t bothered, as the prosecution has suggested, by the phone call she’d just had with her police partner and former lover, Martin Rivera.
“I saw (the door) was cracked open,” Guyger said of the moment she put her key in Jean’s door. “I heard moving around inside my apartment.”
Guyger said her heart rate skyrocketed as she opened the door fully to take on the threat.
“Whenever I fully opened the door, I saw this silhouette figure standing in the back of the apartment by the window,” Guyger said.
She raised her voice in the courtroom to repeat what she said next.
“I yelled at him, ‘Let me see your hands, let me see your hands,’” Guyger said. “I couldn’t see his hands ... I thought he was going to kill me.”
Earlier in the week, three of Jean’s neighbors testified that they did not hear anyone yell any commands like “Let me see your hands” before they heard the two shots Guyger took at Jean.
Throughout the encounter, Guyger said, she followed her training, from the commands she said she shouted at Jean to the two shots, or “double-tap” she fired at him.
It never entered her mind, she would tell prosecutor Jason Hermus on cross-examination, to follow another part of her DPD training — to retreat and wait for backup in order to maintain her safety.
“(Using lethal force) was the only option that went through my head,” Guyger said.
After the shooting, Guyger said, she performed what she described as a “sternum rub” on Jean with her left hand, hoping to bring him back to consciousness. She called 911 on her cellphone using her right hand.
“I wanted him to keep breathing,” Guyger said. “The state he was in, I knew it wasn’t good.”
She left Jean, she said under direct examination, because the first officers to show up told her to leave the apartment.
At no point during her 911 call or her initial conversations with fellow cops did she say she feared for her life or think Jean had a weapon. Hermus asked her why she didn’t warn officers that Jean might have a weapon when they entered his apartment.
“I didn’t say (he was coming toward me) but I know he did,” Guyger said.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Just before the end of her direct examination by defense attorney Toby Shook, Guyger apologized for killing Jean.
“I hate that I have to live with this,” Guyger said, as tears streamed down her face. “I wish he was the one with the gun and killed me.”
Two days after the shooting, Guyger later told Hermus, she was back to sending Rivera sexually explicit text messages and texts about needing to get drunk, just as she’d routinely done before the shooting. She deleted those texts, as well as the ones she’d sent Rivera on the day of the shooting, because she felt bad about sending them to a married man.
Guyger's cross-examination is scheduled to continue Friday afternoon.