DALLAS (AP) — A grand jury on Friday indicted a white former Dallas police officer for murder in the killing of her unarmed black neighbor after she says she mistakenly went to his apartment rather than her own and shot him.
Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson announced the indictment, flanked by members of the family of victim Botham Jean, a native of the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia who attended college in Arkansas and had been working in Dallas for accounting and consulting firm PwC.
Amber Guyger was arrested on a manslaughter charge three days after the Sept. 6 shooting of the 26-year-old Jean, prompting criticism that the original charge was too lenient. But Johnson said at the time that the grand jury could upgrade the charges, which it did Friday.
“When you look at the facts of this case, we thought that it was murder all along,” Johnson said.
Guyger told investigators that after finishing her shift, she returned home in-uniform and parked on the fourth floor of her apartment complex’s garage, rather than the third floor, where her unit was located, according to an affidavit prepared by the Texas Rangers. She said she got to what she thought was her apartment — Jean’s was directly above hers — and found the door ajar. She opened it to find a figure standing in the darkness. She said she pulled her gun and fired twice after the person ignored her commands.
Guyger has since been fired from the department and Jean’s family has filed a lawsuit against Guyger and the city of Dallas. The federal suit argues Guyger used excessive force in the shooting and contends the department did not give her adequate training.
The circumstances of the shooting sparked outrage and led many to question Gugyer’s account of what happened. Critics, including Jean’s family, also wondered why it took three days for Guygert to be charged, why she wasn’t taken into custody immediately after the shooting and whether race played a factor in her decision to use deadly force.
Jean’s killing thrust Dallas into the national conversation on the intersection of race and law enforcement, a dialogue revived by the high-profile trials of officers charged with murder in police shootings.
In October, white Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 on-duty shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times.
And in August, white former Dallas-area officer Roy Oliver was convicted of murder after firing into a car filled with black teenagers leaving a house party in 2017 and fatally shooting 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.