DALLAS - Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson promised to leave no stone unturned and fully investigate the case of an off-duty Dallas police officer who shot and killed her neighbor in his own apartment.
Johnson said she met with the Texas Rangers for two hours Sunday before the agency issued an arrest warrant for Officer Amber Guyger. Although the officer was charged with manslaughter, the DA reminded people that the grand jury will have final say over what charges she will face.
“The grand jury will decide if the charges should be different,” she said during a news conference Monday morning. “Believe me, we will make sure justice is done in this case.”
Johnson would not clear up any of the many stories floating on social media about what happened Thursday night when Guyger shot 26-year-old Botham Jean inside his apartment. Instead, she assured that her office will conduct a thorough investigation in parallel to the Texas Rangers’ investigation.
“We’re going to get our ducks in a row and will have a full picture of what happened,” she said.
Dallas police said Officer Guyger had just gotten off her shift Thursday night when she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own at the South Side Flats near Downtown Dallas. The exact details of the shooting are still unclear but police said Guyger ran into a man she didn’t recognize and ended up shooting him. She called 911 afterward.
The arrest warrant released Monday afternoon described Guyger’s account of what happened that night.
The warrant says Guyger parked on the fourth floor (the wrong floor for her in the parking garage) and went to Jean's fourth-floor apartment instead of her third-floor apartment. Guyger was able to get into the wrong apartment with her key since it was left slightly open, the warrant says. She walked in, saw a shadow and fired her weapon, hitting Jean.
The Dallas County Medical Examiner has officially ruled Jean's death a homicide. The ME said he died of a gunshot wound to the chest that went into his abdomen.
Guyger, a four-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, was booked into the Kaufman County jail Sunday after turning herself in. She posted her $300,000 bond a few hours later.
Dallas police stepped away from the investigation and turned the case over to the Texas Rangers shortly after the shooting. The Rangers have since passed it on to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he is putting his faith in Johnson since the case is now in her hands. He also added this case is very serious for the city of Dallas.
“A lot has happened in 72 hours. We had a terrific tragedy, a terrific tragedy. We have a model citizen in this city killed in his own home,” he said during a one-on-one interview with FOX 4’s Clarice Tinsley. “We have investigators trying to figure out immediately what happened, the decision to take it to the Texas Rangers, letting them move through this, figuring out what to charge her with and then having the DA take this up. So I’m actually pretty pleased with what we’ve done at a justice standpoint.”
The mayor also vowed to get to the bottom of what happened in the case.
City councilmember Philip Kingston was critical of parts of the investigation early on. He said the officer should have been arrested and charged much earlier. Rawlings has been critical of Kingston for his comments.
“It is a terrible thing for an elected official to get in the middle of an investigation that the Texas Rangers are doing and possibly hurt the DA's chances of doing what she wants to do,” Rawlings said.
But Kingston has no regrets for speaking out.
"He got told a bunch of stuff and went and made public statements on Friday and Saturday that now don't look very well thought out and really don't match the facts. So, that's frustrating when that happens, it's happened to me. But taking it out on me in some king of tantrum is a little bit childish,” Kingston said.
Meanwhile, Jean’s family spoke to reporters Monday alongside the prime minister of Saint Lucia and attorneys Lee Merritt, Daryl Washington and Benjamin Crump. Crump is known for representing Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown’s families in those high-profile cases.
“This is a shocking scenario to everybody. The way Botham was killed is not just a shock to his family but it was astonishing to most sensible people not just in America but around the world,” Crump said. “Black people in America have been killed by police in some of the most unbelievable manners. Driving while black in our cars. Black people have been killed walking while black in our neighborhoods and now here we are here being killed living while black in our apartments. At some point, we have to say we have an issue here.”
The attorneys cautioned what happened in Dallas is now an international incident.
“They are watching ‘Is the American justice system going to treat Botham Jean and his family like they would treat the officer’s family had this situation been reversed?’” Crump said.
Jean’s mother, Allison, thanked the community for standing with her. But she said she is still not satisfied with the progress of the investigation.
“I am not satisfied that we have all the answers. And the number one answer that I want is what happened?” Allison Jean said. “I have asked too many questions and I have been told that there are no answers yet. I’m looking forward to all of the powers that be to come up with the answers.”
Tears fell from 17-year-old Brandt Jean's eyes as the group talked about the death of his older brother.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said he traveled to the United States to give his solidarity to the family. Jean grew up in the Caribbean island nation and his mother has worked for the government for many years.
“Allison did an incredible job at raising her son. And we all in Saint Lucia are extremely proud of Botham and of what he represented and how he represented Saint Lucia,” he said.
Prime Minister Chastanet said Jean’s death has left the country both sad and angry that someone could be killed in their own apartment.
“I know for the family there are also mixed emotions. One is wanting to try to heal and to be emotional about the loss of their son but then also being forced into this situation of having to want justice,” he said.
A group of pastors gathered to pray on Monday outside the Dallas Police Department. Members of the African American Pastors Coalition thanked city leaders for addressing community concerns. They also called for peaceful dialogue to continue during the investigation.
"Let me hasten to say I appreciate so much the leadership of you Renee Hall, Mayor Mike Rawlings and the Texas Rangers. They stepped up in a big way,” said Frederick Haynes with Friendship West. “But that does not mean we are going to sleep, and we are not going to hold this process accountable. We are determined that justice is served."
The pastors say it’s the unknown aspect of the full encounter that some in the community are having the toughest time coping with.
“We are not just churches that focus on everything being great and everything being happy,” said Bryan Carter with Concord Church. “We are churches the deal with the real issues of life."
The group of ministers encouraged peace and calm. Their prayers even included Officer Guyger.
A group of 150 demonstrators marched through Downtown Dallas Monday night to protest Jean’s death.
The protestors began Dallas Police Headquarters around 7 p.m. and marched to the South Side Flats apartment complex.
The demonstration was organized by the Next Generation Action Network. Many of the people who attended the rally are frustrated with what they believe is an unfair legal system that favors a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man.
“For him to be killed in his home like this, it's not right,” said Troy X, a protestor. “And for her to be allowed to go home for 72 hours, walk in jail and walk out is not right because if I killed somebody I'd be charged immediately.”
After the hour-long rally, the group then marched one block up Lamar Street to South Side Flats. There, they took a knee and said a prayer. Later, things got heated between some protesters and police. At one point, an officer deployed tear gas to prevent the group from getting on the interstate.
The district attorney says she has no timetable for this case going to a grand jury. She says her unit that investigates officer-involved shootings will look to gather all evidence and present a full picture of what happened to a grand jury.