Texas officer arrested on manslaughter charge in man’s death
DALLAS (AP) — A white Dallas police officer was arrested Sunday on a manslaughter charge in the off-duty shooting of a black neighbor whose apartment she says she mistook for her own.
Officer Amber Guyger was booked into the Kaufman County Jail after being taken into custody, the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a news release. The department said the investigation is ongoing and that no additional information was available.
A jail employee said Guyger was released on bond. Online records initially showed Guyger was in custody, but she later was not listed on the jail inmate roster.
Guyger fatally shot 26-year-old Botham Jean on Thursday at Jean’s apartment. Lawyers for Jean’s family had been calling for Guyger’s arrest, saying the fact that she had remained free days after the shooting showed she was receiving favorable treatment. They held a news conference Sunday night, shortly before the arrest was announced, making another plea for the officer to be taken into custody and saying their team had presented new evidence — a witness and video footage — to prosecutors. They didn’t provide details.
The family attorneys weren’t immediately available for comment after the arrest came.
S. Lee Merritt, one of the attorneys for Jean’s family, said Saturday that the man’s loved ones weren’t calling on the authorities to jump to conclusions or to deny Guyger her right to due process. But Merritt said they wanted Guyger “to be treated like every other citizen, and where there is evidence that they’ve committed a crime, that there’s a warrant to be issued and an arrest to be made.”
Guyger, 30, is a four-year veteran of the police force. The Dallas Police Department released her name Saturday night.
Police Chief U. Renee Hall said the day after the shooting that her department was seeking manslaughter charges against Guyger. But she said Saturday that the Texas Rangers, who have taken over the investigation, asked her department to hold off because they had learned new information and wanted to investigate further before a warrant was issued.
Jean’s family has also hired attorney Benjamin Crump, who is best known for representing the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Martin, a black, unarmed 17-year-old, was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012 in Sanford, Florida. Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old, was shot and killed by a white police officer in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
Crump has also represented the families of Stephon Clark and Terence Crutcher, both also black and unarmed. Clark, 22, was fatally shot earlier this year by officers in the backyard of his grandparents’ home in Sacramento, California. Crutcher, 40, was shot and killed by a white police officer in 2016 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
According to police, Guyger shot and killed Jean after returning in uniform to the South Side Flats, where they both had apartments, following her shift. She reported the shooting to dispatchers and she told officers who responded that she had mistaken Jean’s apartment for her own.
Many questions remain about what led Guyger to shoot Jean. Hall said the officer’s blood was drawn at the scene so that it could be tested for alcohol and drugs. Investigators haven’t released the results of those tests.
Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, wondered whether race could have been a factor. Her son, who grew up in the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia before attending college in Arkansas, is black. Guyger is white.
“If it was a white man, would it have been different? Would she have reacted differently?” Allison Jean said Friday.
Jean wasn’t the first person shot by Guyger. She shot another man, Uvaldo Perez, on May 12, 2017, while she was on duty.
According to an affidavit in the case filed against Perez, police were looking for a suspect when Guyger and another officer were called to assist a third. Perez got out of a car and became combative with Guyger and another officer. A struggle began and Guyger fired her Taser at Perez, who then wrested it away from her. She then drew her gun and fired, wounding Perez in the abdomen.
Guyger was not charged in the 2017 shooting.
Sgt. Mike Mata, president of Dallas’ largest police employee organization, the Dallas Police Association, on Saturday called for an “open, transparent and full investigation of the event,” the Dallas Morning News reported. He described Jean as an “amazing individual” and said that “if the grand jury deems necessary, this officer should have to answer for her actions in a court of law in Dallas County.”
Friends and family gathered Saturday at the Dallas West Church of Christ to remember Jean, who had been working for accounting firm PwC since graduating in 2016 from Harding University in Arkansas, where he often led campus religious services as a student. They described Jean as a devout Christian and a talented singer.
“Botham did everything with passion,” Allison Jean told the prayer service. “God gave me an angel.”
His uncle, Ignatius Jean, said the killing has devastated the family and left it searching for answers.
“You want to think it’s fiction ... and you have to grapple with the reality,” he said.
Miller reported from Oklahoma City.