Case against officer who killed neighbor to go to grand jury
Brandt Jean, center left, brother of shooting victim Botham Jean, hugs his sister Allisa Charles-Findley, during a news conference outside the Frank Crowley Courts Building on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, in Dallas, about the shooting of Botham Jean by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger on Thursday. He was joined by his mother, Allison Jean, second from left, and attorney Benjamin Crump, second from right, as attorney Lee Merritt, right, speaks to the media. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
Brandt Jean, center, brother of Botham Jean, cries as he attends a news conference outside the Frank Crowley Courts Building on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, in Dallas, about the shooting of Botham Jean by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger on Thursday. He was joined by his mother, Allison Jean and attorney Benjamin Crump. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
This photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office shows Amber Renee Guyger. Guyger, a Dallas police officer, was arrested Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, on a manslaughter warrant in the shooting of a black man at his home, Texas authorities said. The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a news release that Guyger was booked into the Kaufman County Jail and that the investigation is ongoing. It said no additional information is available at this time. (Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
This Sept. 21, 2017, photo provided by Harding University in Search, Ark., shows Botham Jean leading worship at a university presidential reception in Dallas. Authorities said Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, that a Dallas police officer returning home from work shot and killed Jean, a neighbor, after she said she mistook his apartment for her own. The officer called dispatch to report that she had shot the man Thursday night, police said. (Jeff Montgomery/Harding University via AP)
This March 24, 2014, photo provided by Harding University in Searcy, Ark., shows Botham Jean, speaking at the university. Authorities said Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, that a Dallas police officer returning home from work shot and killed Jean, a neighbor after she said she mistook his apartment for her own. The officer called dispatch to report that she had shot the man Thursday night, police said. She told responding officers that she believed the victim’s apartment was her own when she entered it. (Jeff Montgmery/Harding University via AP)
This Feb. 27, 2014, portrait provided by Harding University in Searcy, Ark., shows Botham Jean. Authorities said Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, that a Dallas police officer returning home from work shot and killed Jean, a neighbor, after she said she mistook his apartment for her own. The officer called dispatch to report that she had shot the man Thursday night, police said. (Jeff Montgomery/Harding University via AP)
Brandt Jean, brother of Botham Jean, is comforted by his sister, Allisa Charles-Findley, as their mother, Allison, looks on during a news conference on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas. Botham Jean was shot and killed by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger in his apartment on Thursday night. (Shaban Athuman/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
DALLAS (AP) — The case against a white Dallas police officer who shot and killed a black neighbor will be presented to a grand jury, which could decide on more serious charges than manslaughter, the district attorney said Monday as an affidavit provided a fuller description of the officer’s account.
Lawyers for the victim’s family questioned why it took three days for officer Amber Guyger to be charged and why she was so quick to use deadly force in her encounter with 26-year-old Botham Jean, who lived in the apartment directly above hers. She told authorities she mistook the neighbor’s unit for her own.
An arrest affidavit prepared by a Texas Ranger was released Monday, providing a narrative of what happened. It appeared to be based almost entirely on the officer’s account.
Guyger told investigators that she had just ended a 15-hour shift Thursday when she returned in uniform to the South Side Flats apartment complex. She parked on the fourth floor, instead of the third, where she lived, according to the affidavit, possibly suggesting that she was confused or disoriented.
When she put her key in the apartment door, which was unlocked and slightly ajar, it opened, the affidavit said. Inside, the lights were off, and she saw a figure in the darkness that cast a large silhouette across the room, according to the officer’s account.
The officer told police that she concluded her apartment was being burglarized and gave verbal commands to the figure, which ignored them. She then drew her weapon and fired twice, the affidavit said.
She called 911 and, when asked where she was, returned to the front door to see she was in the wrong unit, according to the affidavit.
Authorities have not released any 911 tapes related to the shooting.
The Dallas County medical examiner’s office said Jean died of a gunshot wound to the chest. His death was ruled a homicide.
Jean’s mother said investigators had not given her family an account of what happened. Allison Jean told a news conference that she asked many questions but was told there are no answers yet.
The family hired attorney Benjamin Crump, who is best known for representing the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Martin was the black 17-year-old who was fatally shot in 2012 by George Zimmerman, a Hispanic man who was his Orlando-area neighborhood’s watch captain. Brown, who was 18, was shot to death in 2014 by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
“Black people in America have been killed by police in some of the most unbelievable manners,” Crump said Monday at a news conference, citing “driving while black in our cars” and “walking while black in our neighborhoods.”
Now, he said, “we are being killed living while black when we are in our apartments.”
The family’s legal team also includes Lee Merritt, who has represented relatives of an unarmed black teenager who was shot in the back by a white police officer in June while fleeing a traffic stop near Pittsburgh.
The officer was arrested Sunday night and booked into jail in neighboring Kaufman County before being released on bond.
When asked why Guyger was allowed to surrender somewhere other than Dallas County’s jail, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said the decision was made by the Texas Rangers, who are also investigating.
On the day after the shooting, Police Chief U. Renee Hall said her department was seeking manslaughter charges against Guyger, a four-year veteran of the police force. But Hall said Saturday that the Texas Rangers asked her department to hold off because they had learned new information and wanted to investigate further before a warrant was issued.
The district attorney will also have the option of presenting more serious charges to the grand jury.
It was not clear who, if anyone, had been hired to represent the officer. Online court documents that would normally list a defendant’s attorney were not yet available.
Guyger’s blood was drawn at the scene to be tested for alcohol and drugs, Hall said, but authorities have not released results.
Allison Jean wondered whether race could have been a factor. Her son grew up in the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia before attending college in Arkansas.
“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 a man named Uvaldo Perez on May 12, 2017, while on duty.
According to an affidavit filed against Perez, police were looking for a suspect when Guyger and another officer were called to assist a third officer. 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.
Sgt. Mike Mata, president of Dallas’ largest police union, the Dallas Police Association, called Saturday for an “open, transparent and full investigation of the event,” the newspaper 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.”
Jean had worked for accounting firm PwC since graduating in 2016 from Harding University, where he often led campus religious services as a student.
Miller reported from Oklahoma City. Associated Press Writer David Warren contributed to this report.