The murder trial of Amber Guyger gets underway today in Dallas. She’s the Dallas police officer who shot and killed 26-year-old Botham Jean while he was in his own apartment.
There is no dispute that Guyger shot and killed accountant Jean in his 4th-floor apartment in Southside Flats. As Guyger said in her 911 call right after the shooting, she thought she had entered her apartment directly below Jean’s. In the recording obtained by WFAA TV, she asked for emergency medical help.
“I’m an off-duty officer. I thought I was in my apartment. And I shot a guy thinking that he was…thinking it was my apartment. I’m [expletive]. Oh my God. I’m sorry," Guyger said.
Former U.S. Attorney Matt Orwig expects Guyger’s defense to include the most human of behaviors — she made a mistake. A deadly one.
“Did she mean to do it? Was there a mistake of fact? Meaning did she believe there was a different environment, a different setting in which she was in?” asks Orwig.
He says however persuasive Guyger’s story may sound, prosecutors may ask how she missed the unique red mat in front of Jean’s apartment, or whether she used her holstered police pistol too quickly when she saw Jean in the dark. She still in uniform after a long shift.
Supporters of Jean and members of his family see his death cloaked in racism — a scared white cop too quick to shoot an unarmed black man without assessing the situation. Jean’s mother Allison flew from her home in St. Lucia to Dallas after the shooting.
“So I’m calling on the Dallas officials,” said Botham Jean’s mother. “Please come clean. Give me justice for my son because he does not deserve what he got.”
Orwig says it may be hard — but important — for jurors to objectively assess this highly emotional trial.
“Because,” said Orwig, “you don’t want people picking sides on that aspect of the case. You want the jury solely considering the facts, the evidence before them, and the law the judge instructs them and that’s the way they’re going to have to make a decision.”
The judge has suggested the trial could last two weeks.