Officer Accused of Killing Botham Jean Fired by Dallas Police, Faces Manslaughter Charge
Nearly two weeks after the Sept. 6, 2018, fatal shooting of Botham Jean provoked protests, which rose to a fever pitch when news that a police search had turned up a small amount of cannabis in the victim’s apartment, the Dallas Police Department (DPD) has fired Amber Guyger, the officer who stands accused of shooting Jean in his apartment, which she claimed to have entered by mistake.
Chief U. Reneé Hall, the first woman to lead the Dallas police force, announced on Sept. 24, 2018 that Officer Guyger was no longer a member of the DPD.
“An Internal Affairs investigation concluded that on Sept. 9, 2018, Officer Guyger, #10702, engaged in adverse conduct when she was arrested for manslaughter,” the DPD statement read. “Officer Guyger was terminated for her actions.”
— Dallas Police Dept (@DallasPD) September 24, 2018
On Sept. 9, three days after the shooting, Guyger was arrested, charged with manslaughter, then released on $300,000 bond.
The decision to fire Guyger, 30, was welcomed yet many wondered…what took so long?
The victim’s parents, Allison and Bertrum, and their legal team of S. Lee Merritt, Ben Crump, and Daryl Washington, conducted a conference call with Hall one day before Guyer’s firing was announced, according to Merritt.
According to a statement by Merritt, Hall offered them an explanation for the delay: “Specifically, she explained that a premature administrative suspension could have possibly implicated Guyger’s Fifth Amendment protections and compromised the criminal prosecution.”
Once the announcement to fire Guyger became public, Hall told a group of reporters at a Media Post Public Safety Committee meeting, “I waited until the critical portion of the investigation was complete, and although it is ongoing … the critical part where it could be compromised is no longer an issue.”
Merritt, who viewed the firing of Guyger as a small victory, noted that the announcement came on the same day Jean, 26, was laid to rest in his native St. Lucia.
“Having said that,” Merritt told Marijuana.com, “we’re deeply committed to undertaking the process of a murder indictment, conviction, and appropriate sentencing.”
Merritt added that his office was conducting its own parallel investigation in preparation for a civil rights case against Guyger and the City of Dallas for the wrongful death of Jean.
Kimberlee Leach, a public information officer for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, said the DPD’s internal affairs investigation is separate from the ongoing criminal investigation. District Attorney Faith Johnson is in charge of the criminal investigation, and “any other investigations have nothing to do with us. We’re only involved in the facts of the case,” Leach told Marijujana.com
Johnson said in a Sept. 10, 2018, press briefing that the manslaughter charges against Guyger could be upgraded to murder. Asked whether the DA would elevate charges against Guyger, Leach said, “Anything is possible,” but declined to comment further.
Dallas-based criminal attorney Robert L. Rogers, who is representing Guyger, thinks his client has been treated unfairly and believes the termination was premature.
“Unfortunately, Chief Hall bowed to pressure from anti-police groups and took action before all of the facts had been gathered and due process was afforded,” Rogers said in a Sept. 25, 2018, statement to CBS News. “That’s not the way our system of justice should work.”