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.
76 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
1. Ariane McCreeSource:The Herald/YouTube 1 of 76
2. Terrance Franklin2 of 76
3. Miles HallSource:KRON4 3 of 76
4. Darius TarverSource:S. Lee Merritt 4 of 76
5. William Green5 of 76
6. Samuel David Mallard, 196 of 76
7. Kwame "KK" Jones, 17Source:facebook 7 of 76
8. De’von Bailey, 198 of 76
9. Christopher Whitfield, 319 of 76
10. Anthony Hill, 2610 of 76
11. De'Von Bailey, 1911 of 76
12. Eric Logan, 5412 of 76
13. Jamarion Robinson, 2613 of 76
14. Gregory Hill Jr., 3014 of 76
15. JaQuavion Slaton, 2015 of 76
16. Ryan Twyman, 2416 of 76
17. Brandon Webber, 2017 of 76
18. Jimmy Atchison, 2118 of 76
19. Willie McCoy, 2019 of 76
20. Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 2120 of 76
21. D’ettrick Griffin, 1821 of 76
22. Jemel Roberson, 26Source:false 22 of 76
23. DeAndre Ballard, 23Source:false 23 of 76
24. Botham Shem Jean, 26Source:false 24 of 76
25. Robert Lawrence White, 41Source:false 25 of 76
26. Anthony Lamar Smith, 24Source:Getty 26 of 76
27. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 27 of 76
28. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 28 of 76
29. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 29 of 76
30. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 30 of 76
31. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 31 of 76
32. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 32 of 76
33. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 33 of 76
34. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 34 of 76
35. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 35 of 76
36. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 36 of 76
37. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 37 of 76
38. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 38 of 76
39. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 39 of 76
40. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 40 of 76
41. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 41 of 76
42. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 42 of 76
43. Laquan McDonald, 17Source:Getty 43 of 76
44. Akai Gurley, 28Source:Getty 44 of 76
45. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 45 of 76
46. Rumain Brisbon, 34Source:Getty 46 of 76
47. Jerame Reid, 36Source:Getty 47 of 76
48. Charly Keunang, 43Source:Getty 48 of 76
49. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 49 of 76
50. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 50 of 76
51. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 51 of 76
52. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 52 of 76
53. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 53 of 76
54. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 54 of 76
55. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 55 of 76
56. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 56 of 76
57. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 57 of 76
58. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 58 of 76
59. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 59 of 76
60. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 60 of 76
61. Philando Castile, 32Source:Getty 61 of 76
62. Terrence Sterling, 31Source:Getty 62 of 76
63. Terence Crutcher, 40Source:Getty 63 of 76
64. Keith Lamont Scott, 43Source:Getty 64 of 76
65. Alfred Olango, 38Source:Getty 65 of 76
66. Jordan Edwards, 15Source:Getty 66 of 76
67. Stephon Clark, 22Source:false 67 of 76
68. Danny Ray Thomas, 34Source:false 68 of 76
69. DeJuan Guillory, 27Source:false 69 of 76
70. Patrick Harmon, 5070 of 76
71. Jonathan Hart, 2171 of 76
72. Maurice Granton, 2472 of 76
73. Julius Johnson, 2373 of 76
74. Jamee Johnson, 22Source:S. Lee Merritt 74 of 76
75. Michael Dean, 28Source:S. Lee Merritt 75 of 76
Lawyers In The Botham Jean Murder Trial Won’t Refer To Amber Guyger’s ‘Employment Status’: Report was originally published on newsone.com