Officer’s account backed
2 say clues at scene support part of her story, but ‘we just don’t know’ if door was ajar
Evidence from Botham Jean’s apartment supports Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger’s account that she shot Jean from across the room as she stood inside his apartment door, two law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the case told The Dallas Morning News.
The evidence, at least so far, doesn’t conclusively show whether the door was unlocked or ajar.
“We just don’t know,” said one of the two law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the case publicly.
Jean’s family has said they don’t believe he would have left the door open.
Court records obtained Thursday show Dallas police also found, among other things, two spent cartridge casings and 10.4 grams of marijuana in the apartment. The law enforcement officials said the marijuana was on the kitchen counter.
An attorney for the family was not available for comment Thursday.
Guyger, who lives directly below Jean, shot and killed him around 10 p.m. Sept. 6. She has said she drove to the wrong level of the parking garage and mistook his apartment for her own. Guyger told police that the door was ajar and that she thought Jean was an intruder.
The two shell casings were found just inside the door, indicating that that’s where Guyger was standing when she fired her gun, one official said.
That official said there was no blood near the door that would have indicated Jean was there when he was shot. There was “a small amount along the paramedics’ route with Botham,” one of the officials said. “But that was mostly outside the apartment.”
Blood was taken from Guyger to test for drugs and alcohol. Similar tests are conducted during autopsies. The results have not been made public, and the tests may not yet be completed.
Jean’s death has prompted protests in Dallas about the shooting of a black man in his own home by a white police officer who shouldn’t have been there. Guyger was charged Sunday with manslaughter.
Critics of the investigation say affidavits by the Dallas Police Department and the Texas Rangers, which took over the investigation, offer conflicting accounts, an indication that Guyger’s account changed.
A search warrant obtained by Dallas police says “an unknown male, inside the apartment confronted the officer at the door.” Another affidavit, obtained by the Texas Rangers to arrest Guyger three days after the shooting, says Jean was “across the room” when the officer walked through the door.
The Dallas police search warrant was obtained Sept. 7, just hours after the shooting. A police spokesman said later the same day that investigators had not yet interviewed Guyger, who called 911 to report the shooting. Guyger was interviewed by Texas Rangers before that agency obtained the arrest warrant on Sunday.
One of the law enforcement officials said Guyger has always said she was in the doorway but Jean was not. The same official said Jean was 12 to 15 feet away from the door when first responders arrived.
‘Where he stood’
“That is where he stood when he was shot and where he fell,” that law enforcement official said.
Guyger said that the apartment was dark and that when she saw “a large silhouette,” she thought she was being burglarized, the arrest warrant affidavit says. She said she drew her gun, “gave verbal commands that were ignored” by the man she took to be a burglar and fired twice, investigators wrote.
Jean was struck once in the torso and was rushed to Baylor University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Guyger had parked on the fourth floor instead of the third, where her apartment is, law enforcement and Mayor Mike Rawlings have said. The law enforcement official said Guyger told police she had been carrying her heavy protective vest when she arrived at Jean’s apartment. It was in the apartment when first responders arrived.
Along with Guyger’s ballistic vest, investigators seized a black backpack with police equipment and paperwork inside and “two packages of used medical aid,” the warrant says. A metal marijuana grinder was also found in the apartment.
An attorney for Jean’s family, Lee Merritt, has said two independent witnesses have come forward to say they heard knocking on the door in the hallway before the shooting. Merritt said one witness reported hearing a woman’s voice saying, “Let me in, let me in.” Then they heard gunshots, he said.
The law enforcement official said police spoke to one of those witnesses the night of the shooting and the witness did not offer that account to police. Law enforcement, however, is looking into those accounts.
There had also been complaints about noise coming from Jean’s apartment. Merritt told CNN the complaints came from Jean’s “immediate downstairs neighbors.” He did not say whether Guyger had complained.
Guyger was at work during the day and had just ended a 15-hour shift when she shot Jean.
Merritt and the law enforcement official said there had been a noise complaint the day Jean was shot. The law enforcement official said Jean told his girlfriend that two women from the leasing office came by his apartment after he got off work and he wasn’t playing music at the time.
Jean worked for the accounting firm Pricewaterhousecoopers and was known as “Bo.” His funeral was Thursday, and his body will be flown to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, where he is from.
Guyger is free on a $300,000 bond after turning herself in at the Kaufman County Jail.
Evidence from Botham Jean’s apartment at the South Side Flats supports Officer Amber Guyger’s account that she shot him from across the room as she stood inside his apartment door, two law enforcement officials say. The evidence, at least so far, doesn’t conclusively show whether the door was unlocked or ajar, as Guyger has said.
Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall and City Manager T.C. Broadnax attended a City Council meeting Wednesday that the Next Generation Action Network disrupted temporarily by chanting, “No Justice, no peace.”