After listening to testimony all day on Wednesday, a Texas grand jury has decided to indict Amber Guyger for murder in the shooting death of Botham Jean this past September. The grand jury had the option to indict Guyger for murder or manslaughter or not indict her at all.
Guyger, who was a Dallas police officer at the time of the shooting, was arrested and charged with manslaughter three days after she shot and killed unarmed Botham Jean in his apartment. She was also eventually fired.
Before the grand jury decision was handed down, Jean’s family’s attorney Lee Merritt asserted that he was hoping for a murder indictment. “Anything less, we feel, would be a miscarriage of justice,” he told Dallas News.
The Death of Botham Jean
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.
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.