Dallas police officer Amber Guyger is facing manslaughter charges for killing 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean in his own apartment.
Guyger, 30, told police that she entered Jean's apartment by mistake, thinking it was her own. They lived in the same building — he in the apartment directly above her — but did not know each other, according to police. Guyger was off-duty and had just finished working a shift.
Jean's apartment door was reportedly unlocked and the lights were off. Guyger claims that after she fired at Jean in the dark, she turned on the lights and saw that she was not in her apartment. That's when she called 911, and officers responded within about four minutes. Jean was taken to the hospital, where he died.
"A female Dallas police officer returned to what she believed to be her apartment after her shift ended — she was still in uniform when she encountered Mr. Jean inside the apartment," Dallas police chief Ulysha Renee Hall said on Thursday. She said it's unclear what "the interaction was between her and the victim. Then at some point she fired her weapon, striking the victim."
Many details of the case — like how on earth Guyger mistook Jean's apartment for hers and whether she was intoxicated — remain murky. What we do know is that it's yet another case that has ignited advocates against police brutality. Guyger is white and Jean was Black.
"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," civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing Jean's family, told the Washington Post.
Guyger had been with the police department for four years. She has reportedly been freed on $300,000 bail and is now on administrative leave. This, and the fact that it took police several days to arrest her, is raising questions about whether she's getting preferential treatment as a police officer.
"In any normal case where there's probable cause...you make an arrest," Merritt said on Sunday, before Guyger was arrested. "When law enforcement [is under investigation], for some reason, we don't use the normal protocol in dealing with criminal activity."
Jean's mother Allison Jean, a former government official on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia — where Jean was born — said the news of his death have been "a nightmare." Jean, an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, had first moved from St. Lucia to Arkansas. In college, he was a member of an a cappella group performing spiritual songs.
"I need to look into her eyes and ask her why did she do that to my son," Allison Jean told NBC News. "She took away my heart. My soul. He didn't deserve to die. The explanation does not make sense. ... Botham would want me to get justice for him. ... The state needs to pay for my son."