WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A Texas jury on Tuesday convicted an ex-Dallas police officer who fatally shot her neighbor after mistaking his apartment for her own.
- In September 2018, Amber Guyger walked up to Botham Jean’s apartment, which was on the fourth floor of the apartment complex, directly above hers on the third.
- Jean’s shooting attracted nationwide attention because it was one in a series of shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers.
A Texas jury on Tuesday convicted Amber Guyger, a 31-year-old white ex-Dallas police officer who fatally shot her black neighbor, 26-year-old Botham Jean, after mistaking his apartment for her own.
Following hours of deliberation, the jury reached the guilty verdict after six days of witness testimony.
In Texas, being sentenced for murder will get the convicted party from five to 99 years of jail time. On Tuesday afternoon, the jury is expected to return for the punishment phase of the high-profile trial.
According to Guyger, she walked up to Jean’s apartment in September 2018 and found the door unlocked. Jean’s place was on the fourth floor, directly above hers on the third. Guyger ‘went home’ after a long shift when she shot Jean with her service weapon.
Jean, an accountant, had been eating a bowl of ice cream before Guyger shot him at his home. The news of his shooting attracted widespread attention because of the strange circumstances. It was also one in a series of shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers.
Guyger was arrested three days after Jean’s shooting. She was later fired and charged with murder, but only addressed the shooting in public upon taking the witness stand last Friday.
In tears, Guyger apologized for killing Jean. She told the jurors she feared for her life upon finding the door to what she thought was her apartment unlocked. She said that Jean came toward her at a fast walk when she entered the apartment with her gun out. Prosecutors argued that Jean was just rising from a couch toward the back of the room when Guyger shot him.
Guyger said: “I thought it was my apartment” almost 20 times in a 911 call which was played repeatedly during the trial revealed that. Her lawyers noted that the identical physical appearance of the apartment complex from floor to floor frequently led to tenants to the wrong apartments.
But prosecutors stressed Guyger could have missed numerous signs that she was in the wrong apartment because she was distracted by sexually explicit phone messages with her police partner.
The prosecutors also questioned Guyger why she didn’t radio in for help when she feared there was a break-in at her home. Guyger said that going through the doorway with her pistol drawn, “was the only option that went through my head.”