Sunday, May 31, 2020

Amber Guyger, ex Dallas cop who shot neighbor Botham Jean, rests her case and closing arguments begin

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Closing arguments began Monday in the murder trial of Amber Guyger, the former Dallas police officer who fatally shot her neighbor, Botham Jean, in his own apartment after mistaking it for hers.

The shooting has attracted intense national scrutiny not only for the strange circumstances surrounding it but also because it was one in a series of shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers. The shooting led to widespread marches, protests and calls for Guyger to be held accountable for Jean’s death.

Guyger, a four-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, was initially charged with manslaughter for the Sept. 6, 2018 incident. Two months later, she was indicted by a grand jury on a murder charge. She has pleaded not guilty.

Throughout the trial, Guyger’s defense team has framed the shooting as a “tragic but innocent” mistake.

Legal analysts said that the trial’s outcome could hinge on whether the jury believes Guyger’s account that she made a mistake and that the mistake was reasonable.

PROSECUTION RESTS IN TRIAL OF AMBER GUYGER, DALLAS COP WHO SHOT NEIGHBOR

During his closing argument, prosecutor Jason Fine with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office slammed Guyger for changing her story on the witness stand. He said the case “has to do with [Guyger] making an unreasonable decision that put her in the [defense seat] and Bo in the ground.”


He added: “This case is all about what is reasonable and what is absurd.”

Fine also brought up witness credibility and told jurors that they had a duty to look past Guyger’s time on the police force and judge her like any other defendant. He then picked apart her testimony.

This portrait provided by Harding University in Searcy, Ark., shows Botham Jean.
(Jeff Montgomery/Harding University via AP)

“She sat up there and told you two different stories,” Fine said. “She couldn’t even get her story straight.”

Fine said Guyger first said that Jean was at the back door and that he was coming toward her and she had no choice but to shoot when he was 13 feet away. However, on redirect, she changed her story to say he wasn’t in front of her but over by the couch.

“She was caught in a lie,” Fine said.

“She was caught in a lie.”

— Jason Fine, prosecutor in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office

Last week, Guyger openly wept as she took the stand in her own defense after her attorney Toby Shook questioned her about the moments that led up to the shooting.

Guyger testified she was still wearing her police uniform but was off duty when she entered Jean’s apartment and shot him twice.

“I was scared to death,” Guyger said, adding that her “heart rate just skyrocketed.”

Guyger, who had grown up in a suburb of Dallas, said she “never wanted to take an innocent person’s life.”

She also reenacted how she reached the apartment door she believed was hers, with her backpack, lunch box and police vest in her left hand and said she heard the sound of someone walking around inside. She testified that when she put the key into the lock she noticed the door was ajar. She then saw the silhouette of a figure and pulled out her gun and yelled, “Let me see your hands! Let me see your hands!”

Amber Guyger on Nov. 30, 2018.  (Mesquite Police Department via AP)

Amber Guyger on Nov. 30, 2018.  (Mesquite Police Department via AP)

Guyger said she saw the figure was moving and that Jean was yelling, “Hey! Hey! Hey!” in an “aggressive” voice. She pulled out her gun and fired.

“I was scared he was going to kill me,” she testified.

AMBER GUYGER, WHITE DALLAS EX-COP, SAYS SHE WAS ‘SCARED TO DEATH’ WHEN SHE SHOT BLACK NEIGHBOR BOTHAM JEAN

Throughout the trial, jurors have heard from officers who were called to the scene that night and who tried to resuscitate Jean. They also listened to testimony from neighbors and an investigator about how common it was for residents to wind up on the wrong floor of the South Side Flats complex where Guyger and Jean lived. They also heard the 911 call Guyger made after she shot Jean where she is heard repeatedly saying, “I didn’t mean to.”

Prosecutors said Guyger was distracted by a sexually explicit conversation she was having with her partner on the police force. They said she missed a series of signs she wasn’t on the right floor of her apartment, including a different colored doormat and lighted numbers that contained four instead of three on the floor below.

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If the jury finds her guilty of murder, Guyger could face life in prison. If she is found not guilty of murder, she could still face lesser charges of manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.

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