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Botham Shem Jean speaks at his alma mater, Harding University.
Botham Shem Jean speaks at his alma mater, Harding University.
courtesy Harding University

Former Dallas Cop Amber Guyger Indicted for Murder in Botham Jean Shooting

UPDATE, 4 p.m.: In light of the new murder charge against her, Amber Guyger turned herself in Friday afternoon, outgoing Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said. The $300,000 bond she posted after being arrested on manslaughter charges in September in the death of Botham Jean was transferred to her new case, Johnson said, allowing Guyger to remain free on bail.

At a press conference, Johnson praised both the grand jury and investigators from her office for their hard work on the case.

“Today the Dallas County grand jury has returned an indictment against Amber Guyger for the offense of murder,” Johnson said. “I want to thank the grand jury for their diligent work.”

Her office, Johnson said, took its time before seeking an indictment in the case to ensure that it could paint the best possible picture of the shooting to the grand jury.

“This office has spent hundreds and hundreds of hours investigating this case. We were determined to present to the grand jury all of the facts and explain to them the law,” Johnson said.

The September decision to charge Guyger with manslaughter wasn’t up to Dallas County, Johnson said. Instead, it was made by the Texas Rangers, who conducted the initial investigation in the case.

Botham Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, said she was thankful for the indictment, but stressed her hopes that Guyger will eventually be convicted for killing her son.

“I am indeed satisfied with the indictment for murder of Amber Guyger because I truly believe that she inflicted tremendous evil on my son,” Jean said. “I look forward to the next step, which is a conviction of murder for Amber Guyger and more so to the penalty, which will cause her to reflect on the pain she has caused.”

Bertram Jean, Botham Jean’s dad, said he and his family were praying for their son’s killer.

“We also pray for Amber that she will recognize what she has put us through,” Jean said. “We really are just — not happy — but we take consolation. We take comfort at this result but we return to our island with much grief.”

In a written statement, Dallas police Chief U. Renee Hall emphasized that the department is working on building better relationships with the people it serves:

"Every person in the Dallas Police Department continues to feel anguish about this difficult and tragic event that occurred on September 6, 2018," Hall said. "We recognize and understand 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. We have more work to do and we remain committed to improving our relationships throughout the city.

"Finally, I would like to thank all our partners including clergy, community groups and businesses that continue to work with us as we protect and serve the residents of this great city. Please continue to pray for the Botham Jean family, the Dallas Police Department, and the city of Dallas as a whole."

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings also issued a statement about the indictment:

"Botham Jean was an incredible young man who was tragically taken from us too soon. Our city will never forget him. Today’s decision is another step on the long path toward justice for Botham. We appreciate the work of the Texas Rangers and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. Please continue to pray for the Jean family."

ORIGINAL STORY: A Dallas County grand jury indicted former Dallas Police Department Officer Amber Guyger on murder charges Friday for shooting and killing her neighbor Botham Jean in early September. Guyger shot Jean in his apartment. 

Guyger entered Jean's apartment on Sept. 6 after completing her shift at DPD's Southeast Patrol Division. Shortly afterward, she shot and killed Jean. According to Guyger's arrest warrant affidavit, she lived in Apartment 1378 of the South Side Flats complex near Dallas Police Department headquarters in the Cedars. Jean lived in Apartment 1478, directly above Guyger's.

After her shift ended, Guyger told police, she drove home and parked on the fourth floor of the apartment complex's garage. From there, she unwittingly entered the fourth-floor hallway — which is largely identical to the hallway below it, according to the affidavit — and headed to Jean's apartment. She put her key in the lock, and the door, which was slightly ajar, opened.

The officer walked into the dark apartment and saw Jean. Believing he was a burglar, Guyger said, she "gave [Jean] verbal commands," which he ignored. Guyger then shot at Jean twice, hitting him once in the chest.

Guyger then gave Jean CPR and called 911. Only after calling 911 did she turn on the lights and realize she wasn't in her apartment, according to the affidavit.

On Sept. 9, she was arrested on a manslaughter charge and immediately bailed out. Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall fired Guyger on Sept. 24.

Defense attorney and former Dallas County prosecutor Pete Schulte told the Observer earlier this week that the grand jury was more likely to indict Guyger for murder than manslaughter, if it indicted her at all, because she intended to shoot Jean.

"If there is an indictment, it will be a murder indictment," Schulte said. "I don't think there's any in-between. At the time the force was used — because that's what we look at in all criminal cases, whether it's a police officer or anybody else — when the force was used, her intent was an act clearly dangerous to human life. She fired a gun in the direction of a person she knew was standing in front of her."

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