Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who fatally shot her neighbor, Botham Jean, may ultimately receive a more serious charge than manslaughter, for which she was arrested Sunday night, said Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson on Monday.
Guyger's case will go before a grand jury, Johnson told reporters, which may indict her on a graver charge. "The grand jury will be that entity that will make the final decision in terms of the charge or charges that will come out of this case," Johnson said. "We prepare to present a thorough case to the grand jury of Dallas County, so that the right decision can be made in this case."
Though police shootings have proved a stubborn exception to the rule, grand juries overwhelmingly choose to indict. The jurors only hear from the prosecutor — the defense does not present a case — so Johnson's expectation of charges beyond manslaughter have strong, though not certain, predictive power.
Among the the issues the jury will likely consider is the question of how Guyger came to be in Jean's apartment, as reports on this subject have differed. According to her arrest warrant, Guyger, who is white, found the door ajar and fired on Jean, who was black, when she saw his silhouette in the dark apartment.
However, an early report by a local NBC affiliate cited an unnamed Dallas police officer saying the door was closed and Guyger "struggled with the lock" until Jean "swung open the door and startled her." A Tuesday CBS report seems to support the earlier account, as two other neighbors have come forward to say they heard Guyger knocking and asking to be let inside. Bonnie Kristian
Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger was arrested Sunday night on a manslaughter charge for fatally shooting her neighbor Botham Jean after apparently mistaking his apartment for her own. Guyger was booked into the Kaufman County jail at 7:20 p.m. but was no longer listed as an inmate by 8:30 p.m. Her bail was set at $300,000 and a jail employee told The Associated Press she had been released on bond. Jean, 26, was an employee of PricewaterhouseCoopers who grew up on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and attended college in Arkansas. Guyger, who has been with the Dallas Police Department for almost five years, is white. Jean was black.
Jean's family had been calling for Guyger's arrest since the shooting on Thursday, suggesting she was receiving special treatment because she's a police officer. Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall said Saturday that the Texas Rangers, who took over the investigation on Friday, had asked that no warrant be issued because they wanted to investigate some new leads first. "I am grateful to Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall for her leadership and foresight in calling for the Rangers to handle the investigation to ensure there was no appearance of bias," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement on Sunday night. Peter Weber
She has worked with the Dallas Police Department for four years and was involved in another shooting in May 2017. In that incident, Guyger shot a suspect she said was reaching for another officer's Taser during a struggle. He survived, and she wasn't charged.
Guyger hasn't been charged for this shooting either, and the family of her victim, Botham Jean, has argued she is receiving special treatment as a cop. Guyger is white, and Jean — like a disproportionate number of people killed by police in America — was black.
"This family is frustrated," said their attorney, Lee Merritt. "This family is grieving that [an arrest] has not happened yet. We believe the fact that that has not happened yet is a reflection on deferential treatment for law enforcement officers." Bonnie Kristian
A Dallas police officer fatally shot a man named Botham Jean late Thursday after she mistakenly entered his apartment, believing it to be her own.
The officer, who has not been identified, has not been arrested, but Dallas police are obtaining a warrant on manslaughter charges and have asked the Texas Rangers to lead the investigation for the sake of accountability. "We understand the concerns of this community, and that is why we are working as vigorously and as meticulously as we can to ensure the integrity of this case," pledged police chief Rene Hall.
"Super scary, because the police are supposed to protect you and then they come home — and you're just hanging out in your own house — and then they come home thinking they're home or whatever,” said a neighbor in the same apartment complex, Richard Healy Nelson. “I don't know if she was tired, but that's pretty scary."
Jean hailed from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. He came to the U.S. for college and worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas. "I still don't believe he's gone, but we have to accept it," said Jean's brother, Brandt Jean. "He was really inspiring. He had a positive mind and vibe." Bonnie Kristian
Actress Vanessa Marquez, best known for her role as a nurse on the medical drama ER, was killed by police officers in California Thursday, the South Pasadena Police Department confirmed Friday.
The police were performing a welfare check on Marquez, 49, who was observed to be having seizures and a mental health crisis. She picked up a BB gun the officers said they believed to be a semiautomatic handgun, and police opened fire. Marquez was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. No officers were injured, and their body camera footage will not be released for at least half a year while the shooting is investigated.
"Heart sick to learn of the tragic passing of my friend, Vanessa Marquez," her Stand and Deliver costar Lou Diamond Phillips wrote on Twitter. "I was not aware of the pain she endured due to her conditions and saddened to think that they may have contributed to her untimely demise. Her light and her soul still shine in the performances she gave us."
A 2015 study found those with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed by police than other Americans. Similarly, a Washington Post tally of police shootings this year finds about one in five involved a mental health crisis. Many police departments are regularly tasked with handling mental health crises though officers are rarely trained for the responsibility. Bonnie Kristian
Dozens of angry demonstrators chanting, "Who do you protect? Who do you serve?" assembled in Chicago Saturday night to protest a fatal police shooting of a man on the city's South Side earlier that day. Some protesters reportedly threw bottles and damaged a police car. Four were arrested.
The man who was killed, whose name has not been released, was stopped for questioning while walking because the police were suspicious of "the bulge around his waistband," said Chicago police patrol chief Fred Waller. The officers involved allege the man became "combative" and reached toward his waist. The police opened fire, and the man later died at a hospital. He did have a weapon, but never fired it at the cops.
The officers who shot the man have been placed on desk duty for a month. Chicago's Civilian Office of Police Accountability will investigate. Bonnie Kristian
Lawmakers in California have proposed a change to the state's standard for police use of deadly force, introducing a bill Tuesday that would reduce the number of circumstances where lethal force is authorized.
The legislation would require that police only use "necessary force," rather than the "reasonable force" that is currently allowed, CNN reports. The bill, called the Police Accountability and Community Protection Act, was partly inspired by the recent shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was killed in Sacramento after officers reportedly mistook the cellphone in his hand for a firearm.
If passed, the bill would authorize deadly force "only when it is necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death — that is, if, given the totality of the circumstances, there was no reasonable alternative to using deadly force, including warnings, verbal persuasion, or other nonlethal methods of resolution or de-escalation," explained Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D), a co-author. The legislation would also consider a death a homicide if a police officer's negligence contributed to making the force "necessary," the ACLU of California says.
Police shot and killed 162 people in California last year, lawmakers say, and existing use-of-force laws are partly to blame. "The worst possible outcome is increasingly the only outcome, especially in communities of color," said Weber. Read more at CNN. Summer Meza
Louisiana's attorney general will not charge two Baton Rouge police officers in the 2016 death of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man who was fatally shot while selling CDs outside a convenience store, The Associated Press reports. Last May, the Justice Department likewise decided "insufficient evidence exists to charge either officer with a federal crime in connection with this incident."
The officers had been looking for a suspect who matched Sterling's description, police said, and after they tackled Sterling, he allegedly reached for a gun before officers opened fire. The incident was caught on video, and many who have seen the footage say it did not show Sterling reaching for a weapon. After the shooting, protesters marched for several days, with almost 200 people arrested.
Officers are rarely charged in fatal shootings while on duty. Since 2005, The Washington Post found that only 54 officers have been charged in "thousands" of deadly incidents, and most were ultimately acquitted or otherwise cleared. Jeva Lange