Ex-Dallas cop Amber Guyger guilty in neighbor's death

Wednesday, 02 Oct, 2019

Hermus also told the jury that Guyger missed blatant clues that she was not in her own apartment - including the smell of marijuana smoke - because she was distracted after a 16-minute phone conversation on her commute with her former police partner.

A jury found Amber Guyger guilty of murder Tuesday for the killing of Botham Jean in September of a year ago.

Guyger, 31, faces life in prison after the jury returned a guilty verdict after less than 24 hours of deliberations following the weeklong trial.

Jean's mother, Allison, said "God is good". The figure moved toward her in a "fast-paced walk", and she could not see the person's hands, she testified.

Lee Merritt, another lawyer for the Jean family, said they weren't surprised by the verdict.

Listing off the names of other unarmed black people killed by police, from Tamir Rice to Eric Gardner, the Jean-family attorney said the jury's decision sets a precedent that will help spur equal justice under the law. "The jury's thoughtful verdict sets a powerful precedent for future cases, telling law enforcement officers that they can not hide behind the badge but instead will face justice for their wrongful actions". She noticed the door was partially open, and pulled out her service weapon and shot a figure inside in the dark. She had reportedly just finished a 13 1/2 hour shift at work and claimed she thought she was entering her own apartment.

Guyger had walked up to Mr Jean's apartment - which was on the fourth floor, directly above hers on the third - and found the door unlocked.

"When you aimed and pulled the trigger at Mr. Jean, shooting him in center mass exactly where you are trained, you meant to kill Mr. Jean", lead prosecutor Jason Hermus said.

The shooting drew widespread attention because of the odd circumstances and because it was one in a string of shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers. The incident led to widespread marches, protests and calls for Guyger to be held accountable for Jean's death.

Guyger was arrested three days after the killing and then fired from the Dallas Police Department.

Jurors had the option to convict her on the lesser charge of manslaughter. From the beginning of the trial, Guyger's defense attorney claimed the tragedy resulted from "a flawless storm of innocent circumstances". He refuted the defense team's argument that jurors should consider the "castle doctrine", which gives homeowner's the right to defend their own home with lethal force.

Legal analysts said that the trial's outcome hinged on whether the jury would believe Guyger's account that she made a mistake and that the mistake was reasonable.

Bridgett Brown, a woman who said she was anxious about Dallas, said that recent police shootings had put her on edge.

"Not true, sir", Guyger said, shaking her head. "You don't, as the jurors in this case, decide this case on emotion and sympathy", defense attorney Toby Shook said, addressing the jury. He then picked apart her testimony. It was the first time she's spoken publicly since the shooting.

"I wish he had had the gun and had killed me", a tearful Guyger testified. "It was unreasonable. She should have known she was...in the wrong apartment".

She credited the diversity of the jury pool as a possible factor in the outcome. "I'm so sorry. This is not about hate - it's about being scared".

After the verdict was announced, the attorneys said they had expected a conviction, pointing to the fact that Jean was unarmed, completely non aggressive and in his own apartment.