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.
67 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
1. De’von Bailey, 191 of 67
2. Christopher Whitfield, 312 of 67
3. Anthony Hill, 263 of 67
4. De'Von Bailey, 194 of 67
5. Eric Logan, 545 of 67
6. Jamarion Robinson, 266 of 67
7. Gregory Hill Jr., 307 of 67
8. JaQuavion Slaton, 208 of 67
9. Ryan Twyman, 249 of 67
10. Brandon Webber, 2010 of 67
11. Jimmy Atchison, 2111 of 67
12. Willie McCoy, 2012 of 67
13. Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 2113 of 67
14. D’ettrick Griffin, 1814 of 67
15. Jemel Roberson, 26Source:false 15 of 67
16. DeAndre Ballard, 23Source:false 16 of 67
17. Botham Shem Jean, 26Source:false 17 of 67
18. Robert Lawrence White, 41Source:false 18 of 67
19. Anthony Lamar Smith, 24Source:Getty 19 of 67
20. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 20 of 67
21. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 21 of 67
22. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 22 of 67
23. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 23 of 67
24. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 24 of 67
25. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 25 of 67
26. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 26 of 67
27. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 27 of 67
28. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 28 of 67
29. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 29 of 67
30. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 30 of 67
31. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 31 of 67
32. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 32 of 67
33. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 33 of 67
34. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 34 of 67
35. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 35 of 67
36. Laquan McDonald, 17Source:Getty 36 of 67
37. Akai Gurley, 28Source:Getty 37 of 67
38. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 38 of 67
39. Rumain Brisbon, 34Source:Getty 39 of 67
40. Jerame Reid, 36Source:Getty 40 of 67
41. Charly Keunang, 43Source:Getty 41 of 67
42. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 42 of 67
43. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 43 of 67
44. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 44 of 67
45. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 45 of 67
46. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 46 of 67
47. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 47 of 67
48. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 48 of 67
49. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 49 of 67
50. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 50 of 67
51. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 51 of 67
52. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 52 of 67
53. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 53 of 67
54. Philando Castile, 32Source:Getty 54 of 67
55. Terrence Sterling, 31Source:Getty 55 of 67
56. Terence Crutcher, 40Source:Getty 56 of 67
57. Keith Lamont Scott, 43Source:Getty 57 of 67
58. Alfred Olango, 38Source:Getty 58 of 67
59. Jordan Edwards, 15Source:Getty 59 of 67
60. Stephon Clark, 22Source:false 60 of 67
61. Danny Ray Thomas, 34Source:false 61 of 67
62. DeJuan Guillory, 27Source:false 62 of 67
63. Patrick Harmon, 5063 of 67
64. Jonathan Hart, 2164 of 67
65. Maurice Granton, 2465 of 67
66. Julius Johnson, 2366 of 67
Lawyers In The Botham Jean Murder Trial Won’t Refer To Amber Guyger’s ‘Employment Status’: Report was originally published on newsone.com