The former police officer who illegally entered the home of a Black man before shooting him to death in Dallas last year appeared in court Tuesday as part of a formality before her murder trial was set to begin next month. And while some of the things that took place appeared to be routine, there was one aspect of the proceedings that may have seemed curious to some.
Amber Guyger, who is white, was ultimately fired from the Dallas Police Department after she shot Botham Jean in his own home under the implausible guise that she thought he was a burglar in her apartment. She and her defense attorneys faced off with Dallas prosecutors in front of District Judge Tammy Kemp, the Black woman presiding over the high-profile case.
“Kemp allowed prosecutors to admit several items into evidence, including the firearm Guyger used in the shooting, bullet casings, photographs and an unspecified ‘projectile’ that was recovered through Jean’s autopsy,” the Dallas News reported before continuing: “Prosecutors and Guyger’s defense attorneys stated they did not plan to make references to Guyger’s employment status during the trial.”
It was unclear if that meant that lawyers wouldn’t say that Guyger, 31, was off-duty when she shot Jean, who was just 26 years old when he died. It may have been referring to her getting fired from the Dallas Police Department. Or perhaps both.
While that part may be a bit muddled, Tuesday’s court date made it abundantly clear that Kemp had every intention of trying the case in Dallas instead of granting prosecutors’ request for a change of venue that would arguably increase the probability of fewer prospective minority jurors.
Earlier this month, Kemp delayed ruling on a change of venue motion and wrote in a separate ruling that she would only decide whether a new location was warranted once the process of questioning prospective jurors is “completed or it becomes apparent” during the interviews “that a fair and impartial jury cannot be selected in Dallas County due to the pervasive publicity in this case.”
That last sentence seemed to imply that Kemp believes that “a fair and impartial jury” can still be selected in Dallas County. The location of the trial is key to both the defense and the prosecution because of how much race factors into the case.
Guyger’s killing of the unarmed Jean set off a racial firestorm that hasn’t let up since that fateful September night last year. Dallas County is nearly 24 percent Black and Dallas the city is 24 percent Black. The working logic is that Black people would be more sympathetic to Jean’s death, something the defense wants to avoid by moving the trial to other neighboring, whiter counties where the chances of Black jurors are much lower.
Guyger’s lawyers said earlier this month that “the defendant will argue that her use of deadly force was justified as deadly force in self-defense.”
The defense team wasn’t the only group that wanted to make sure Guyger got a “fair” trial. Local media in Dallas has produced a host of news articles and editorials about the same thing as opposed to the dearth of coverage centered on whether justice will be served for Jean.
Convicting an officer of murder is extremely rare, especially when it comes to the victim being Black. The NYPD officer who used an illegal chokehold to kill Eric Garner was fired Monday as his only true discipline for taking the life of an unarmed Black man. That delayed termination came more than five years after the killing took place in broad daylight. “Since 2005, only 33 law enforcement officers have been convicted of a crime resulting from an on-duty shooting where someone was killed,” NBC News reported. A white police officer in Texas who killed an unarmed Black 15-year-old child after shooting into a car carrying a group of teenagers was found guilty last year, making him only the second police officer in nearly 15 years to be convicted of murder. And still, that cop — Roy Oliver — got a light sentence that will allow the possibility of parole after serving just seven and a half years.
On the night of Sept. 6, Guyger claimed that following a long day on the job as a Dallas police officer, she somehow mistook his apartment for her own and, after ordering Jean not to move, shot him twice before realizing the error of her ways. Her story was met with doubt because of a number of factors, including and especially her assertion that Jean’s door was ajar. Videos posted on social media by neighbors appeared to show that apartment doors in the building shut automatically after being released, an indication that Guyger might have lied about that.
In addition to inconsistencies in her alibis, which have changed several times, Dallas police, of which Guyger was a member for five years before being fired, appeared to be helping to cover up the shooting for their colleague. The department was accused of allowing Guyger enough time to scrub her social media accounts and get her story straight before turning herself in three days after killing Jean. It also gave Guyger enough time to move out of her apartment, which was never searched by police despite five warrants allowing them to do so.
The trial is scheduled to begin exactly one year after Guyger gunned down the innocent Jean in his own apartment.
66 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
1. Christopher Whitfield, 311 of 66
2. Anthony Hill, 262 of 66
3. De'Von Bailey, 193 of 66
4. Eric Logan, 544 of 66
5. Jamarion Robinson, 265 of 66
6. Gregory Hill Jr., 306 of 66
7. JaQuavion Slaton, 207 of 66
8. Ryan Twyman, 248 of 66
9. Brandon Webber, 209 of 66
10. Jimmy Atchison, 2110 of 66
11. Willie McCoy, 2011 of 66
12. Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 2112 of 66
13. D’ettrick Griffin, 1813 of 66
14. Jemel Roberson, 26Source:false 14 of 66
15. DeAndre Ballard, 23Source:false 15 of 66
16. Botham Shem Jean, 26Source:false 16 of 66
17. Robert Lawrence White, 41Source:false 17 of 66
18. Anthony Lamar Smith, 24Source:Getty 18 of 66
19. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 19 of 66
20. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 20 of 66
21. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 21 of 66
22. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 22 of 66
23. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 23 of 66
24. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 24 of 66
25. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 25 of 66
26. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 26 of 66
27. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 27 of 66
28. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 28 of 66
29. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 29 of 66
30. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 30 of 66
31. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 31 of 66
32. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 32 of 66
33. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 33 of 66
34. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 34 of 66
35. Laquan McDonald, 17Source:Getty 35 of 66
36. Akai Gurley, 28Source:Getty 36 of 66
37. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 37 of 66
38. Rumain Brisbon, 34Source:Getty 38 of 66
39. Jerame Reid, 36Source:Getty 39 of 66
40. Charly Keunang, 43Source:Getty 40 of 66
41. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 41 of 66
42. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 42 of 66
43. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 43 of 66
44. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 44 of 66
45. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 45 of 66
46. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 46 of 66
47. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 47 of 66
48. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 48 of 66
49. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 49 of 66
50. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 50 of 66
51. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 51 of 66
52. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 52 of 66
53. Philando Castile, 32Source:Getty 53 of 66
54. Terrence Sterling, 31Source:Getty 54 of 66
55. Terence Crutcher, 40Source:Getty 55 of 66
56. Keith Lamont Scott, 43Source:Getty 56 of 66
57. Alfred Olango, 38Source:Getty 57 of 66
58. Jordan Edwards, 15Source:Getty 58 of 66
59. Stephon Clark, 22Source:false 59 of 66
60. Danny Ray Thomas, 34Source:false 60 of 66
61. DeJuan Guillory, 27Source:false 61 of 66
62. Patrick Harmon, 5062 of 66
63. Jonathan Hart, 2163 of 66
64. Maurice Granton, 2464 of 66
65. Julius Johnson, 2365 of 66
Lawyers In The Botham Jean Murder Trial Won’t Refer To Amber Guyger’s ‘Employment Status’: Report was originally published on newsone.com