Dallas police arrested officer Amber Guyger on manslaughter charges Sunday, after she shot and killed a man in his apartment last week. Guyger has said she mistakenly believed she had entered her own home in the same building.
Guyger, 30, is a four-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department. She shot Botham Shem Jean, 26, on Thursday night after returning to her apartment building, the South Side Flats. At the time, Guyger was in full uniform, having just finished a shift on duty. She called 911 after shooting Jean, who was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
The killing sparked shock in the community — and speculation about whether Guyger’s explanation should be taken at face value. And then there’s the element of race: Guyger is white; Jean was black.
“Right now, there are more questions than answers,” Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall said at a news conference about the shooting.
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Police initially treated the incident as an officer-involved shooting. “However,” Hall said, “as we continued this investigation it became clear that we were dealing with what appears to be a much different and very unique situation.”
The police chief said a blood sample was drawn to test for drugs and alcohol, without providing further details, and noted that the Texas Rangers had been called in to take over the case.
“It’s not clear what the interaction was between her and the victim,” she said.
Hall said she had wanted to get a warrant for manslaughter against her own officer on Friday — but that the Rangers opted to delay the move, after speaking with Guyger.
Commenters on the Dallas Police Department’s Facebook page criticized the delay in charging Guyger.
“If Pookie from around the way would have taken someone’s life, he would have been arrested on the spot,” Tonya Moore wrote in response to the department’s posting about Guyger. “And you wonder why community relations is bad.”
Others complained about the rapidity with which Guyger navigated the criminal justice system following her arrest late Sunday. She was able to surrender to police, be processed and post a $300,000 bond in only about an hour, rather than spend a night in jail.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings issued a statement praising the investigators and the community for their response to the killing, prompting Twitter user Shannon Toye to reply, “Mr. Rawlings, This entire situation smacks of preferential treatment. There is no level playing field in America.”
As NPR’s Camila Domonoske reported about Jean:
“Jean was a graduate of Harding University in Arkansas and worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Dallas Morning News reports.
“He was from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and the oldest son of a former government minister, and his mother was the permanent secretary of the ministry of education, innovation, gender relations and sustainable development, according to the St. Lucia Times.”
Jean’s family has urged patience to allow due process to play out, while also urging the police to seek justice. According to KERA, attorney S. Lee Merritt, who is representing the Jean family, said they want Guyger “to be treated like every other citizen, and where there is evidence that they’ve committed a crime, that there’s a warrant to be issued and an arrest to be made.”