December 3, 2018 AT 10:30 AM|
A former Dallas police officer who walked into an unarmed man’s apartment on Sept. 6 and shot him while wearing her police uniform has been indicted on a charge of murder.
The Dallas County grand jury began hearing the case against Amber Guyger, 30, on Monday. Guyger was originally charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean. She was released from jail on a $300,000 bond about an hour after turning herself in.
District Attorney Faith Johnson said that by 3 p.m., Guyger had turned herself back in on the murder charge. Her bond was transferred and she has been released.
Asked why the grand jury indicted Guyger on a murder charge, Johnson said, “We presented the evidence and explained the law.” She added that the law prohibits her from talking about the evidence presented to the grand jury.
She said her office had a “very spirited conversation” with the Texas Rangers, the lead investigators in the case, back in September.
“They chose to file this case as manslaughter,” she said. “We did our own investigation.”
She said that prosecutors talked to more than 300 witnesses.
Guyger has said she mistook Jean’s apartment at the South Side Flats for hers that night after getting off a long work shift, Dallas police said. Court documents have varied on the story of how Guyger got Jean’s door open.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, along with several other media outlets, have requested copies of the 911 call Guyger made after the shooting, along with body camera footage worn by the officers who responded. The Dallas Police Department has declined to release that information and sent the open records requests to the attorney general for final determination.
Guyger was not wearing a body camera. The department said officers leave their body cameras at work after their shift.
Johnson, who was voted out of office in the Nov. 6 election, will not see the case through to a trial and said Friday that she “trusts the DA-elect will continue to represent this family (and all of Dallas County) as he seeks justice for victims.”
Johnson also spoke about why it took her office two months to bring the case in front of a grand jury. She said she wanted to make sure the jury had everything they needed to “make the right choice.”
“We thought it was murder all along,” she said. “But we didn’t file this case … but we did what we had to do get this case ready for the grand jury. Justice is never too long.”
Moving forward, it could be more than a year before Guyger sits in front of a judge and jury. It took 16 months, Johnson said, for the case against former cop Roy Oliver to go to trial. Oliver shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards while on duty as a Balch Springs police officer. He was found guilty of murder.
Jean was a native of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. After graduating from college in Arkansas, he moved to Dallas to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Jean’s family filed a lawsuit against the City of Dallas and its Police Department in late October.
Jean’s family says in the suit that Guyger had a history of violence and used excessive force against Jean that fateful night in September, resulting in his wrongful death.
The family also says the Dallas Police Department “has a pattern, practice, history and custom of using excessive force against minorities,” and accuses it of not providing proper training or discipline for Guyger in the use of deadly force.
“By simply following proper police procedures and the best police practices and not the protocol of the DPD to ‘shoot first and ask questions later,’ Defendant Guyger would have not shot Jean,” the lawsuit states. “Essentially, Officer Guyger was ill-trained, and as a result, defaulted to the defective DPD policy: to use deadly force even when there exists no immediate threat of harm to themselves or others.