The Dallas police officer who fatally shot an Black immigrant from St. Lucia last week was arrested yesterday (September 9) on manslaughter charges, a move that civil rights groups called a “first step” toward justice and police accountability.
Amid increasing calls for her arrest from advocates against police violence, Amber Guyger, 30, was booked into the Kaufman County Jail on Sunday. The Dallas Police Department officer was later released after posting a $300,000 bond. At press time, there is no information regarding union involvement.
Days before her arrest, Guyger, who is White, told investigators that she returned home last Thursday (September 6) after completing a work shift and accidentally entered the home of 26-year-old Botham Jean believing it was her apartment. Guyger says she thought Jean was an intruder and shot him. She called 911, but Jean died at a hospital.
It remains unclear whether Jean’s apartment door was locked at the time, or how Guyger confused Jean’s apartment for hers, but residents of the apartment complex have told media that they can access their apartments with a key or a keypad code.
Today (September 10), the Dallas County medical examiner’s office reportedly concluded that Jean died of a gunshot wound to the chest, ruling the death a homicide.
Jean’s death has recast national attention on police violence against people of color. Lawyers for Jean’s family said that Guyger’s actions stemmed from seeing a Black man in what she thought was her apartment. They also say that Guyger received preferential treatment after the shooting, pointing out that she remained free for several days.
“I have to believe based on experience that her decision to use deadly force in the way that she did was influenced by the fact that she was standing in front of a Black male and that our society has allowed law enforcement to use deadly force in unnecessary situations against Black men with impunity,” S. Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney who represents Jean’s family, told The Washington Post.
Over the weekend, Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, said she did not want to judge her Guyger. “But I need to look into her eyes and ask her why she did that to my son,” she says in the video below.
Dallas police initially balked at arresting Guyer. On Saturday, Chief Reneé Hall said investigators needed more time to assess what she termed an unusual case.
On Sunday, the rights group Mothers Against Police Brutality criticized the apparent preferential treatment Guyger has received as a police officer, but later told The Associated Press her arrest was a “first step” toward justice and accountability.