Advertisement
VICE News

Dallas cop charged with manslaughter for shooting unarmed black man in his own apartment

"Now we have to add living while black” to the list of reasons black people are being killed in "some of the most arbitrary ways,” said lawyer Benjamin Crump

by Tess Owen
Sep 10 2018, 12:45pm

Updated Sept. 10 at 5:25 p.m.

An affidavit filed Monday afternoon explained that Officer Guyger’s apartment is on the third floor of the apartment complex, directly below Botham Shem Jean’s apartment, and there’s a multi-story parking lot attached to the Dallas complex. Guyger said she mistakenly parked on the fourth floor, and when she went to open what she thought was her front door, it was already ajar.

“Upon the door being open, Guyger observed that the apartment interior was nearly completely dark,” the affidavit states. “Believing she had encountered a burglar, which was described as a large silhouette, across the room in her apartment, Guyger drew her firearm, gave verbal commands that were ignored by complainant Jean."

Original story:

An off-duty Dallas police officer who fatally shot her unarmed black neighbor in his own apartment was arrested Sunday and charged with manslaughter.

Amber Guyger, 30, said she came home from a long shift and mistakenly entered Botham Shem Jean’s apartment Thursday night believing it was her own, and shot him. Jean, a 26-year-old black man and a native of the Caribbean island St. Lucia, later died at the hospital.

The fact that days elapsed before Guyger was taken into custody on Sunday inflamed accusations that police departments extend preferential treatment when one of their own kills someone. The incident has also been held up as another example where black people are harassed, arrested, or even killed while going about their daily lives.

“We’re still dealing in America with black people being killed in some of the most arbitrary ways,” said Benjamin Crump, who is serving as co-counsel in the case on Sunday. “Driving while black, walking while black and now we have to add living while black.”

Crump has been involved in some of the biggest civil rights cases in recent years, including that of Michael Brown, the black teen who was fatally shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, and Tamir Rice, the black 12-year-old killed by police in Cleveland that same year.

“We don’t need evidence beyond a reasonable doubt at this point,” lead attorney S. Lee Merritt said Sunday. “At this point, we need probable cause of a crime. And the existence of probable cause is painstakingly clear to everyone.”

Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall made the decision Friday morning to gather sufficient evidence to see a warrant for manslaughter, according to a statement from the police department. “On behalf of the Dallas Police Department, we are continuing to pray for Mr. Jean’s family,” Hall said, “and ask that the community remain patient as this investigation is conducted.”

When Guyger, who has been with the department for nearly five years, came home to her apartment complex in downtown Dallas at around 10 p.m. Thursday after a “full shift,” she was still in her full uniform, according to the Dallas Police Department. Officials haven’t said much beyond her claim that she entered Jean’s apartment thinking it was her own.

“It’s not clear what the interaction was between her and the victim,” Dallas police said. “Then at some point she fired her weapon striking the victim.”

In bystander video from outside the apartment complex, Guyger is seen pacing and heard on the phone crying. Paramedics arrive on the scene and remove Jean on a stretcher.

In 2017, Guyger escaped indictment for shooting a suspect who took her Taser from her, Dallas Morning News reported. She was released from jail Sunday evening after posting bond.

Cover: This photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office shows Amber Renee Guyger. Guyger, a Dallas police officer, who was arrested Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, on a manslaughter warrant in the shooting of a black man at his home. (Kaufman County Sheriff's Office via AP)