Inflammatory Social Media Posts Highlight Guyger Sentencing

Attorneys for Botham Jean's family addressed the media following the first day of Guyger's sentencing proceedings.
Attorneys for Botham Jean's family addressed the media following the first day of Guyger's sentencing proceedings. Lucas Manfield
Sentencing of Dallas ex-cop Amber Guyger began Tuesday afternoon, hours after a jury found her guilty of murdering her upstairs roommate, Botham Jean, in a shooting last September.

She faces five to 99 years in prison

Prosecutors presented additional evidence, including Guyger’s application for employment at the Dallas Police Department and inflammatory postings on social media, and called Botham Jean’s family and friends to the stand to testify to his character and the impact of his loss.

The application revealed that Guyger had previously applied to both the Fort Worth and DFW police forces and had been denied at least once. In a news conference outside the courtroom, attorneys for the Jean family said the city deserved blame for not properly screening Guyger.

"This is something that could have been avoided if the city had taken the proper steps," Lee Merritt said.

While discussing the content of Guyger’s personnel file outside earshot of the jury, Judge Tammy Kemp disclosed that the files revealed that Guyger had failed multiple polygraph tests while recounting her use of marijuana — she said she consumed it three times nearly a decade ago — and her theft of a pencil and a brownie from a prior job.

Guyger was booked into Dallas County jail Tuesday night to await the conclusion of her sentencing. Unless the jury lessens her charges — they can do so if they are convinced the crime was committed as a result of sudden passion — Guyger will not be eligible for probation and will begin serving her sentence as she awaits the result of an inevitable appeal.

Prosecutors also presented Guyger's postings on Pinterest, which they’d obtained through a search warrant for Guyger’s account on the social media website. “Yah I got meh a gun a shovel an gloves if I were u back da fuck up and get out of meh fucking ass,” read one of the posts.

They also presented text message logs from Guyger’s phone that revealed a conversation in which she spoke disparagingly of black co-workers. In the exchange, Guyger's patrol partner, Martin Rivera, texted her that he was working in an area with five black officers.

"Not racist but damn," Rivera texted.

“Not racist but just have a different way of working and it shows,” Guyger replied.

Guyger’s supervisor at the Crime Response Team testified that Guyger had been officially reprimanded for not notifying her supervisors that a suspect who had escaped from her custody was handcuffed. Otherwise, Sgt. Robert Wilson said, she was a dependable officer.

Allison Jean took the stand to tell the jury about her son’s relationship with his family. She held back tears as she described when Botham flew from the United States to Saint Lucia — the Caribbean nation where he was born — to surprise her on Mother's Day.

Jean was an exemplary student, she said, ranking in the top 1% of students on the island in a high school entrance exam. She hoped he’d stay close to home, but he chose to study accounting at Harding University in the United States against his mother’s wishes because he wanted to pursue his love of singing. There, Botham became a resident assistant, joined the school’s rugby team and participated in a touring choir.

He graduated from Harding in 2016 and joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as an accountant. His supervisor there, Kerry Ray, told the court that Jean had unlimited potential in the future.

“He could write his own check,” Ray said.

The last time Allison Jean saw her son was in New York early last year. Since hearing of his death, she said, “My life has not been the same, it’s been like a roller coaster.

"I cannot sleep, I cannot eat. It’s just been the most terrible time for me.”
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Lucas Manfield is an editorial fellow at the Observer. He's a former software developer and a recent graduate of Columbia Journalism School.
Contact: Lucas Manfield