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.
71 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
1. Samuel David Mallard, 191 of 71
2. Kwame "KK" Jones, 17Source:facebook 2 of 71
3. De’von Bailey, 193 of 71
4. Christopher Whitfield, 314 of 71
5. Anthony Hill, 265 of 71
6. De'Von Bailey, 196 of 71
7. Eric Logan, 547 of 71
8. Jamarion Robinson, 268 of 71
9. Gregory Hill Jr., 309 of 71
10. JaQuavion Slaton, 2010 of 71
11. Ryan Twyman, 2411 of 71
12. Brandon Webber, 2012 of 71
13. Jimmy Atchison, 2113 of 71
14. Willie McCoy, 2014 of 71
15. Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 2115 of 71
16. D’ettrick Griffin, 1816 of 71
17. Jemel Roberson, 26Source:false 17 of 71
18. DeAndre Ballard, 23Source:false 18 of 71
19. Botham Shem Jean, 26Source:false 19 of 71
20. Robert Lawrence White, 41Source:false 20 of 71
21. Anthony Lamar Smith, 24Source:Getty 21 of 71
22. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 22 of 71
23. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 23 of 71
24. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 24 of 71
25. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 25 of 71
26. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 26 of 71
27. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 27 of 71
28. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 28 of 71
29. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 29 of 71
30. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 30 of 71
31. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 31 of 71
32. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 32 of 71
33. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 33 of 71
34. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 34 of 71
35. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 35 of 71
36. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 36 of 71
37. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 37 of 71
38. Laquan McDonald, 17Source:Getty 38 of 71
39. Akai Gurley, 28Source:Getty 39 of 71
40. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 40 of 71
41. Rumain Brisbon, 34Source:Getty 41 of 71
42. Jerame Reid, 36Source:Getty 42 of 71
43. Charly Keunang, 43Source:Getty 43 of 71
44. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 44 of 71
45. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 45 of 71
46. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 46 of 71
47. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 47 of 71
48. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 48 of 71
49. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 49 of 71
50. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 50 of 71
51. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 51 of 71
52. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 52 of 71
53. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 53 of 71
54. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 54 of 71
55. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 55 of 71
56. Philando Castile, 32Source:Getty 56 of 71
57. Terrence Sterling, 31Source:Getty 57 of 71
58. Terence Crutcher, 40Source:Getty 58 of 71
59. Keith Lamont Scott, 43Source:Getty 59 of 71
60. Alfred Olango, 38Source:Getty 60 of 71
61. Jordan Edwards, 15Source:Getty 61 of 71
62. Stephon Clark, 22Source:false 62 of 71
63. Danny Ray Thomas, 34Source:false 63 of 71
64. DeJuan Guillory, 27Source:false 64 of 71
65. Patrick Harmon, 5065 of 71
66. Jonathan Hart, 2166 of 71
67. Maurice Granton, 2467 of 71
68. Julius Johnson, 2368 of 71
69. Jamee Johnson, 22Source:S. Lee Merritt 69 of 71
70. Michael Dean, 28Source:S. Lee Merritt 70 of 71
Lawyers In The Botham Jean Murder Trial Won’t Refer To Amber Guyger’s ‘Employment Status’: Report was originally published on newsone.com