The Dallas Morning News reports that former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was indicted today on a murder charge.
The indictment comes more than two months after Guyger was arrested and charged with manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Botham Jean, 26. After hearing the evidence this week, a Dallas grand jury decided to indict her on the more serious charge.
Guyger turned herself in this afternoon to be booked on the new murder charge, and was released after posting a $200,000 bond. She had previously posted a $300,000 bond for the original manslaughter charge.
Jean, who was black, was a 2016 graduate of Harding University who worked for the consulting firm PwC in Dallas. He was home watching football in his apartment on September 6. Guyger, who is white, had just finished her police shift. She says that she thought she was entering her own apartment in the same complex when she mistakenly entered Jean’s apartment. She says that she thought he was a burglar; she shot and killed him. It took nearly 48 hours for Dallas police to identify Guyger as the officer who shot Jean, and longer still to charge her.
From a front-page New York Times article in September on the case, here’s a roundup of the conflicting accounts of the evening:
The officer told investigators the door was slightly ajar and then fully opened when she inserted her computerized chip key; lawyers for Mr. Jean’s family said the door was closed. Officer Guyger said in court documents that when she opened the door, the apartment was dark and she saw a silhouette of someone she thought was a burglar. She said she shouted commands that were ignored. Neighbors, however, have told lawyers for Mr. Jean’s relatives that they heard someone banging on the door and shouting, “Let me in!” and “Open up!” before gunshots rang out. They said they then heard a man, presumably Mr. Jean, say, “Oh my God, why did you do that?”
CNN reports on a press conference held after today’s indictment by Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson, in which she commented on the more serious charge leveled against Guyger:
When asked why the grand jury indicted Guyger on the more serious offense of murder, Johnson replied, “We presented the evidence and we explained the law.”
Johnson said murder constitutes someone “intentionally and knowingly” committing a crime, whereas manslaughter involves “recklessly doing something.”
“At the moment of the shooting it was a knowing … offense,” Johnson said.
A separate editorial in the Dallas Morning News worries that the more aggressive charge of murder could be harder to prove and carries a greater risk of a not-guilty verdict.
It will likely be at least a year before the case goes to trial.
Via the Dallas Morning News, here is the reaction of Jean’s parents to the indictment:
“We really are not happy,” Jean’s father said, “but we take consolation, we take comfort at this time.”