TheGrio has launched a special series called #BlackonBlue to examine the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans. Our reporters and videographers will investigate police brutality and corruption while also exploring local and national efforts to improve policing in our communities. Join the conversation, or share your own story, using the hashtag #BlackonBlue.
Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall fired Amber Guyger on Monday morning for the fatal shooting of Botham Jean in his own apartment.
According to the police department, Guyger was terminated during a hearing with the chief Monday morning. An internal affairs investigation found she “engaged in adverse conduct when she was arrested for manslaughter” and she was fired due to her “actions” the night of the fatal shooting.
BREAKING: Dallas Police chief has fired Police Officer Amber Guyger “for her actions” in the killing of Botham Jean. pic.twitter.com/10SNV6zf0T
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 24, 2018
Amber Guyger, who was with the Dallas Police Department since 2013, was charged with manslaughter for shooting and killing Jean in his apartment September 6, after claiming that she thought the apartment was hers.
A Family Grieves
Last week, TheGrio sat down with Botham Jean’s mother, Allison and her attorney, Lee Merritt in our New York studio to discover the man behind the big smile, her immediate feelings the night she received the call about her son’s death and her unwavering quest for justice and the truth.
“Botham was as many people have said, a people person. He loved to interact and he was the life of the party. He was always involved anywhere he went,” said Allison Jean.
After high school, Botham left St. Lucia and moved to Arkansas to attend Harding University. It was a decision that didn’t sit well with his mother at first, who wanted him to stay in the Caribbean. While he loved and respected her, she describes him as a focused, clever young man who clearly had a mind of his own.
As she navigates in slow motion, trying to gain clarity about what really happened to her son, Allison Jean is committed to pushing forward to gain justice for his death.
“There are at least three concurrent investigations going forward: the District Attorney is running an investigation, they are relying heavily on the Texas Rangers and their investigation, and my office is doing a concurrent investigation as well,” said Merritt. “The Ranger investigation hasn’t given us much hope. We got a summary of their view of the case early on and they seem dedicated to confirming the story of Ms. Guyger and not necessarily arriving to the truth.”
On Monday, Lee announced that Chief Renee Hall participated in a conference call with attorneys himself, Ben Crump and Daryl Washington, along with the parents of Botham Jean, Allison and Bertram Jean, Sunday afternoon. During this call the Chief announced her intent to fire Amber Guyger and offered an explanation for the delay in this action. Specifically she explained that a premature administrative suspension could have possibly implicated Guyger’s fifth amendment protections and compromised the criminal prosecution.
The Jean family expressed satisfaction in this explanation and in Guyger’s termination. “We see it as an initial victory—well received on the day Botham Jean is laid to rest in his native country in St. Lucia,” Lee expressed. “However, we are committed to seeing through the next steps of the process of a proper murder indictment, conviction and appropriate sentencing. Our office continues to conduct its parallel investigation into this matter as we prepare a 1983 civil rights action against Guyger and the City of Dallas for the wrongful death of Mr. Jean.”
What Happened that Night?
An arrest affidavit prepared by a Texas Ranger provides a confusing narrative of what happened that night 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.
Guyger 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. The officer was arrested and booked into jail in neighboring Kaufman County before being released on bond.
Attorneys for Jean’s family said the affidavit contradicts neighbors’ accounts of what happened. One of the lawyers, Benjamin Crump, said the affidavit “is very self-serving.” The other, Lee Merritt, said the document is an attempt to “condone what happened, give her a break.”
Merritt said at a news conference that two independent witnesses have told him they heard knocking on the door in the hallway before the shooting.
He said one witness reported hearing a woman’s voice saying, “Let me in! Let me in!” Then they heard gunshots, after which one witness said she heard a man’s voice say, “Oh my God! Why did you do that?”
Merritt said he believes those were Jean’s last words.