DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger was indicted for murder in the shooting death of Botham Jean in September.
She turned herself in and has posted bond, according to Dallas County DA Faith Johnson.
“We presented the evidence and we explained the law,” said Johnson about the change from a charge of manslaughter to murder. Johnson also said her office interviewed 300 witnesses. “At the moment of the shooting, it was an intentional event,” she continued.
Jean’s family was present at and spoke to reporters after learning of the decision.
“I look forward to the next step, which is a conviction of murder for Amber Guyger. And more so, the proper penalty to reflect on the pain she has caused,” said Jean’s mother.
His father talked about what a “sweet boy” Jean was, and added, “He didn’t deserve that.”
Guyger’s defense team said they will consider seeking a change of venue now that she will face trial for murder. When asked about the indictment, they said, “What does she think about the indictment? Amber dedicated her adult life to defending and protecting people so this whole event has taken a toll emotionally and physically on her. She knows that she’s innocent. She knows that this was a tragic mistake so she’s holding up.”
They will start filing motions on Monday morning and spend possibly a year or more preparing for trial.
Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall emailed a statement to CBS 11 News that said in part, “Every person in the Dallas Police Department continues to feel anguish about this difficult and tragic event that occurred on September 6, 2018. We recognize and understand the national discord regarding the relationship between law enforcement and the communities we serve. ”
Responding to the grand jury’s indictment, ACLU of Texas Director of Political Strategies Sharon Watkins Jones stated: “This indictment is a step toward justice for the family of Botham Jean. The Jean family’s loss cannot be restored to them, but we will continue to work to ensure that police officers are held to the same standards as everyone else in the Dallas community and across the state of Texas.”
Hall terminated Guyger, who was initially arrested for manslaughter in the shooting death of Jean, 26.
On the day after the shooting, Chief Hall said her department was seeking manslaughter charges against Guyger, a four-year veteran of the police force. But Hall said the Texas Rangers asked her department to hold off because they had learned new information and wanted to investigate further before a warrant was issued.
An arrest affidavit prepared by the Texas Rangers provided a narrative of what allegedly happened the night Jean was killed. It appeared to be based almost entirely on the officer’s account.
Guyger told investigators that she had just ended a 15-hour shift that Thursday when she returned in uniform to the South Side Flats apartment complex. She parked on the fourth floor, instead of the third, where she lived, according to the affidavit, possibly suggesting that she was confused or disoriented.
When Guyger put her key in the apartment door, which was unlocked and slightly ajar (according to the affidavit), it opened. Inside, the lights were off, and she saw a figure in the darkness that cast a large silhouette across the room, according to the officer’s account.
Guyger told police that she concluded her apartment was being burglarized and gave verbal commands to the figure, which ignored them. She then drew her weapon and fired twice at Jean, the affidavit said.
She called 911 and, when asked where she was, returned to the front door to see she was in the wrong unit, according to the affidavit.
The Dallas County medical examiner’s office said Jean died of a gunshot wound to the chest and abdomen. His death was ruled a homicide.
Jean grew up in the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia before attending college in Arkansas. He graduated in 2016 from Harding University. He had worked for the PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm in Dallas since graduating.
Jean wasn’t the first person shot by Guyger. She shot a man named Uvaldo Perez on May 12, 2017, while on duty.
According to an affidavit filed against Perez, police were looking for a suspect when Guyger and another officer were called to assist a third officer. Perez got out of a car and became combative with Guyger and another officer. A struggle began and Guyger fired her Taser at Perez, who then wrested it away from her. She then drew her gun and fired, wounding Perez in the abdomen.
Sgt. Michael Mata, president of Dallas’ largest police union, the Dallas Police Association, said Guyger was a respected officer and well known to investigative units in the department because she worked on a high-risk team tasked with arresting some of the most violent offenders. On the day of the shooting, Guyger’s unit had arrested multiple suspects for armed robbery, he said.
Mata called for Guyger to have fair treatment, but also said she should answer for her actions.
Guyger was hired in November 2013 and assigned the Southeast Patrol Division.