Former Dallas Police Officer Who Killed Botham Jean in His Apartment Faces Trial
|thenorthstar||Sep 24, 2019|
The former Dallas police officer accused of shooting and killing her Black neighbor has gone to trial. The judge presiding over the murder trial announced she ordered the jury be sequestered from outside influence and any news coverage.
On September 6, 2018, 31-year-old Amber Guyger mistakenly entered the central Dallas apartment of her 26-year-old neighbor Botham Jean.
Guyger, who was off duty but still in uniform during the shooting, told investigators that she mistook Jean for an intruder when she shot and killed him. She claimed that she parked on the fourth floor of the complex’s garage instead of the third floor where she lived. She found the apartment door ajar.
The officer was initially arrested on manslaughter charges, but in November 2018 a grand jury indicted her on a murder charge. .
The trial opened on September 23 with prosecutors revealing that Guyger was in a sexual relationship with her partner in the Dallas Police Department. Prosecutors questioned whether Guyger was distracted by a phone conversation with the man minutes before she killed Jean, NBC News reported.
Prior to the trial beginning, District Judge Tammy Kemp approved lead prosecutor Jason Hermus’ request to use Guyger’s cellphone records, web searches, and text messages from the night of the shooting. Hermus then used those texts to reveal that Guyger was in a relationship with her police partner Martin Rivera.
The pair were on the phone as she drove into her building’s parking garage and just before she fatally shot Jean. Guyger reportedly sent Rivera a sext via Snapchat the night of the shooting after finishing her nearly 14 hour shift that asked, “Wanna touch?” The two had plans to meet up that night, prosecutors claimed.
Rivera testified during the first day of the trial and acknowledged that he would send Guyger provocative photos of himself. The pair sexted each other throughout the day, including one in which Guyer claimed she was “super horny today.”
Prosecutors questioned Rivera about a 16-minute phone conversation the two had while she was headed to her apartment. He said he believed the conversation was mostly about police work but claimed his recollection of the call was fuzzy, CBS News reported.
Rivera denied he had plans to see Guyger that night.
Defense attorney Robert Rogers admitted his client and Rivera were in an intimate relationship. However, Rogers said that “the relationship was ramping down” because his client was searching for someone “more stable.”
After Guyger shot Jean, an accountant from St. Lucia, she reportedly deleted the text messages she exchanged with Rivera from her phone. Rivera said while he did not know why she deleted the messages, he did the same.
Rivera told the court that he deleted the texts because “that’s not something I want to be reminded of. I don’t keep messages saved unless it’s of importance.”
Lee Merritt, a lawyer representing the Jean family in a civil lawsuit against Guyger, tweeted that Guyger and Rivera “actively conspired to hide evidence.”
Guyger sent two quick text messages after shooting Jean, prosecutors revealed. At 10:02 p.m., Guyger texted Rivera, “I need you. Hurry.” A minute later, she texted: “I f— up.” Guyger was on the phone with 911 when she sent the two texts.
Prosecutors said that the former police officer failed to stop the fatal chain of events. “At the moment of this shooting, it was an intentional and knowing offense,” Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said when Guyger was indicted.
The defense argued that Guyger was not distracted, but instead was tired and acting on “autopilot.” Rogers said that Guyger was thinking, “I’m done with my day’s work. I’m going home.”
Daryl Washington, the attorney for the Jean family, said the messages shared during the first day of trial were revealing. “At the time that Botham was struggling to take his very last breath, we saw a police officer who was more concerned about herself and was sending off text messages,” Washington said.
On September 24, the jury heard testimony from the 911 operator who took Guyger’s call and saw a police officer’s body cam video from inside the apartment as officers attempted to give Jean life-saving aid.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.