Law & the Courts

Murder Trial Set to Begin for Off-Duty Officer Who Shot Unarmed Black Man in His Own Home

Amber Guyger in a booking photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office, September 10, 2018. (Kaufman County Sheriff's Office/Handout via Reuters)

A former Dallas police officer who shot a man in his own apartment is set to be put on trial for murder on Monday in Dallas court.

The former officer, Amber Guyger, claimed that she entered the apartment of her neighbor Botham Jean by mistake, believing it to be her own, and mistook Jean for a burglar before shooting and killing him. Other witnesses have reportedly disputed her version of events.

The killing sparked outrage following a string of police shootings of black men and the perception that officers involved were not brought to justice.

Guyger is white and was initially charged with manslaughter, with the implication that the shooting was reckless but not intentional. However, after a spate of protests in Dallas, the district attorney’s office reopened the case, and a Grand Jury in November decided to indict Guyger on murder charges.

Guyger had been on the Dallas police force for four years. She was fired soon after the incident and has remained free on bond with the trial date approaching.

This was not the first time a possibly racially-charged killing roiled Dallas. In 2016, the Dallas incarnation of a nationwide march against police brutality descended into chaos when a sniper opened fire on police at the protest, killing five officers.

The sniper was an African-American army veteran who officials said had set out to kill as many white officers as he could.

Then-Dallas police chief David O. Brown said at the time, “Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken. There are not words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city.”

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