The Dallas police officer who was arrested on manslaughter charges after killing 26-year-old Botham Jean in his apartment last Thursday claims she mistakenly entered the wrong apartment and discharged her service weapon after Jean ignored her “commands.”
But Jean’s family, and new witness accounts, dispute the officer’s claims.
What does the officer claim?
Amber Guyger alleges she entered Jean’s apartment on the fourth floor of the South Side Flats near downtown Dallas after mistaking it for hers, according to her arrest affidavit. She lives on the third floor, directly beneath Jean. According to the New York Times, Jean had received noise complaints from a “downstairs neighbor.” It’s not clear if that neighbor was Guyger or someone else.
Guyger claims that she inserted her key into Jean’s door and the door opened. She explains this by claiming Jean’s door was slightly ajar. It was night and Guyger had just finished a 15-hour shift with the Dallas Police Department. Upon entering the apartment, she claims she saw “a large silhouette” and immediately believed it was a burglar.
She drew her service weapon, “gave verbal commands that were ignored,” then fired twice, the affidavit states. One round hit Jean in the torso, mortally wounding him. He later died at Baylor University Medical Center after paramedics attempted to revive him with CPR.
After shooting Jean, Guyger told investigators she called 911. It was then that Guyger alleged she turned on the lights in the apartment and realized it was not hers.
What are witnesses saying?
Lee Merritt, a Dallas-based civil rights attorney who is representing Jean’s family, said two independent witnesses have come forward with accounts that dispute Guyger’s version of events.
According to The Dallas Morning News, both witnesses report hearing someone knocking on a door in the hallway before the shooting.
One witness states they heard a woman’s voice saying, “Let me in, let me in” before hearing Guyger fire her weapon, Merritt said. The other witness said that after hearing the gunshots they heard a man saying, “Oh my God, why did you do that?”
One witness said she didn’t immediately come forward to police, but approached Jean’s family because her recollection of events disputed Guyger’s, which at the time was the prevailing narrative.
Is there evidence to confirm any version of events?
After interviewing Guyger, the Texas Rangers, the state’s statewide law enforcement agency, believed that “a possibility exists that Subject Jean was expecting an unknown visitor.”
The suspicion led investigators to obtain a search warrant for Jean’s apartment, believing that if Jean was expecting a visitor, then a cellphone or computer would offer evidence to prove the theory.
Law enforcement reportedly collected a cellphone from Jean’s apartment. A laptop computer was also found in the apartment, but it was damaged.
What clues are located on the recovered iPhone are not yet known.
Additionally, investigators also sought to recover narcotics, according to the warrant request. Specifics, such as whose narcotics or what kind of narcotics, are not detailed in the warrant request. It is not even clear if narcotics were recovered by crime scene investigators.
However, the inclusion of narcotics is not necessarily a slight against Jean, the victim. In fact, warrants are sought to both find evidence and discover the absence of evidence. This “helps prevent specious defenses in the future,” one lawyer wrote on Twitter.