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Amber Guyger, a 4-year veteran police officer assigned to the Southeast Patrol Division of the Dallas Police Department, was just like any other law enforcement officer until September 6, 2018, when she ended the life of an unarmed 26-year old man, Botham Shem Jean in one of the most bizarre incidences that shook the United States in 2018.
In addition to a well-deserved widespread criticism, Guyger became the subject of a criminal investigation following the incidence. She was aged 30 at the time of the infamous shooting and has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. The incident has reinvigorated the long-running debate on police brutality against people of color in the United States.
Why Did She Shoot Botham Jean?
According to Amber Guyger, shooting was a matter of mistaken identity. The two had actually been neighbors living on the South Side Flats at 1210 South Lamar Street in Dallas, Texas and with Guyger occupying an apartment on the third floor, Jean’s was directly above hers on the fourth floor.
However, on that fateful Thursday, September 6, 2018, the infamous police officer mistakenly parked her car and got off the 4th floor instead of hers. Reports have it that Guyger spotted Jean while trying to gain entrance into the apartment which she thought was hers and presuming him to be a burglar, she shot him twice using her service firearm. She is said to have been on her way back from a 15-hour shift wearing her full police uniform and the shooting is estimated to have happened at approximately 10 pm.
Realizing her costly folly, Amber Guyger quickly dialled the police dispatch and when the response team arrived in about 4 minutes, she informed them that she had mistaken his apartment to be hers. The team administered first aid to the victim Botham Jean after which he was moved to closeby Baylor University Medical Center where he passed on after unsuccessful attempts to revive him. As revealed by the Dallas County medical examiner’s office, he died of a gunshot wound to the chest and the other shot had hit him on the torso.
Arrest and Prosecution
Police officer. Amber Guyger was not arrested at the scene of the crime, however, a sample of her blood was taken to be tested for alcohol and drugs. To the dismay of Botham Jean’s devastated family members and several other watchers, she remained free for several days after the ugly incident. She eventually turned herself in at the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department on September 9, 2018, after which she was booked into jail. However, she was released after a few hours after posting a $300,000 bail bond.
The investigation into the killing of Botham Jean by Amber Guyger was initially handled under the officer-involved shooting protocol of the Dallas Police department, however, that has since changed owing to the peculiarities of the matter. In order to avoid any semblance of bias, the Dallas PD has also withdrawn as the lead investigative agency and the case has been transferred to the Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
A grand jury has also been set up to decide the charges to be brought against the erring police officer, the weightier charge of murder, a first-degree felony, or that of manslaughter, a second-degree felony.
Amber Guyger’s Relationship with Botham Jean
The only known link between Botham Shem Jean and the female police officer who cost him his life is the fact that they lived in the same building. Since the shooting, diverse theories have been thrown up by the public in a bid to give a plausible explanation to the unfortunate happening. Though the infamous police officer has stated that it was all a mistake on her part, many continue to speculate on the true motive behind her actions. The health and mental state of the officer has been called to question, a possible use of hard drugs have also been queried as well as her uncanny eagerness to pull the trigger at an unarmed man.
A memorial service was held in the honour of Botham Shem Jean on September 13, 2018, at the Dallas West Church of Christ. The 26-year old was a native of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and he has been described by friends and relatives as a model citizen, an amazing individual, a devout Christian and a talented singer.
Until his unfortunate demise, he was an associate at the PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) risk assurance department in Dallas. Jean joined PwC as an intern in July 2016 after graduating from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, accounting and management information systems.