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.
64 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
1. De'Von Bailey, 191 of 64
2. Eric Logan, 542 of 64
3. Jamarion Robinson, 263 of 64
4. Gregory Hill Jr., 304 of 64
5. JaQuavion Slaton, 205 of 64
6. Ryan Twyman, 246 of 64
7. Brandon Webber, 207 of 64
8. Jimmy Atchison, 218 of 64
9. Willie McCoy, 209 of 64
10. Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 2110 of 64
11. D’ettrick Griffin, 1811 of 64
12. Jemel Roberson, 26Source:false 12 of 64
13. DeAndre Ballard, 23Source:false 13 of 64
14. Botham Shem Jean, 26Source:false 14 of 64
15. Robert Lawrence White, 41Source:false 15 of 64
16. Anthony Lamar Smith, 24Source:Getty 16 of 64
17. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 17 of 64
18. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 18 of 64
19. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 19 of 64
20. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 20 of 64
21. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 21 of 64
22. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 22 of 64
23. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 23 of 64
24. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 24 of 64
25. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 25 of 64
26. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 26 of 64
27. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 27 of 64
28. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 28 of 64
29. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 29 of 64
30. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 30 of 64
31. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 31 of 64
32. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 32 of 64
33. Laquan McDonald, 17Source:Getty 33 of 64
34. Akai Gurley, 28Source:Getty 34 of 64
35. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 35 of 64
36. Rumain Brisbon, 34Source:Getty 36 of 64
37. Jerame Reid, 36Source:Getty 37 of 64
38. Charly Keunang, 43Source:Getty 38 of 64
39. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 39 of 64
40. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 40 of 64
41. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 41 of 64
42. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 42 of 64
43. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 43 of 64
44. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 44 of 64
45. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 45 of 64
46. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 46 of 64
47. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 47 of 64
48. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 48 of 64
49. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 49 of 64
50. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 50 of 64
51. Philando Castile, 32Source:Getty 51 of 64
52. Terrence Sterling, 31Source:Getty 52 of 64
53. Terence Crutcher, 40Source:Getty 53 of 64
54. Keith Lamont Scott, 43Source:Getty 54 of 64
55. Alfred Olango, 38Source:Getty 55 of 64
56. Jordan Edwards, 15Source:Getty 56 of 64
57. Stephon Clark, 22Source:false 57 of 64
58. Danny Ray Thomas, 34Source:false 58 of 64
59. DeJuan Guillory, 27Source:false 59 of 64
60. Patrick Harmon, 5060 of 64
61. Jonathan Hart, 2161 of 64
62. Maurice Granton, 2462 of 64
63. Julius Johnson, 2363 of 64
Lawyers In The Botham Jean Murder Trial Won’t Refer To Amber Guyger’s ‘Employment Status’: Report was originally published on newsone.com