On September 6, a white Dallas police officer shot and killed her black neighbor inside his own Dallas apartment, reigniting, once again, the debate around police racism and brutality in the U.S. In the police affidavit, which is based almost entirely off the cop’s account, 30-year-old Amber Guyger claims that she mistook 26-year-old Botham Jean’s apartment for her own and thought Jean was an intruder, leading her to shoot him twice. Witness accounts, however, contradict that narrative: Neighbors say they heard Guyger knocking on Jean’s door and demanding to be let in before the shooting. Today, Jean’s family, friends, and community members continue to mourn and rally to demand answers about how such a tragedy occurred.
Below, here’s everything to know about the Dallas shooting.
What do we know happened on September 6?
After she finished her shift on Thursday evening, Guyger, then a four-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department who has since been fired, drove to South Side Flats apartment complex, where both she and Jean lived. Around 10 p.m. that night, she entered Jean’s apartment and fired two bullets at him. He died later at the hospital. Jean, who was unarmed, lived the floor above Guyger. (On September 16, WFAA reported that Guyger has vacated the apartment complex.)
This isn’t the only shooting in which Guyger has been involved. Just last year, she shot a man in the stomach after he grabbed her Taser.
Who was the victim?
Jean was a 26-year-old black man who was born and raised in Saint Lucia. He was also relatively new to the apartment complex, having only moved there this past April. According to his LinkedIn profile, he was working in Dallas as a Risk Assurance Experienced Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He graduated from Harding University in 2016; according to his father Bertram Jean, he convinced the school to send volunteers to Saint Lucia over the summer to do charity work. “His faith was very strong,” he told CNN. “We will miss our boy.”
In an interview with CNN, South Side Flats resident Alyssa Kinsey described Jean as a great neighbor who was “quiet, friendly, super chill.”
“We would chat about life, smiling and laughing,” she continued. “He had a huge smile.”
At a vigil on September 8, Allison Jean praised her son as someone who “loved mankind,” and said that he wanted “all of us to unite.”
How could this have happened?
In Guyger’s version of the story — which has been called into question by two witnesses — she claims that she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own, and that she believed there was a burglar in her home when she saw her front door ajar. Guyger says the apartment was dark, which is why she was unable to recognize that she was not in her own home; she also says she shot Jean because he had ignored her “verbal commands.” Only after shooting him and then turning on the lights, she claims, did she come to the realization that she was in the victim’s home.
But Jean’s family and community members have come to question Guyger’s account, upon which the police affidavit is almost entirely based. At a news conference on September 10, Lee Merritt, an attorney for Jean’s family, said two witnesses heard someone in the hallway knock on a door before the shooting. One witness says they heard a woman say, “Let me in! Let me in!” before the gunshots, and one claims she heard a man’s voice yell out, “Oh my God! Why did you do that?” after the shooting. According to a lawyer for the family, these may have been Jean’s last words.
Kinsey, Jean’s neighbor, also took issue with Guyger’s claim that she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own, as the victim had a bright red doormat; Guyger did not.
And Merritt himself has disputed a number of Guyger’s claims in the police affidavit. In an interview on CNN, Merritt argued that Jean’s door could not have been ajar, as doors in the apartment complex building close automatically. Though he declined to offer a theory about what actually took place, Merritt did reveal that the same day as the shooting, someone in the apartment immediately below Jean’s — which happens to be Guyger’s place of residence — made a noise complaint about Jean’s apartment; furthermore, he said, it was not the first noise complaint.
One week after the shooting, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published a damning report revealing that the arrest affidavit for Guyger contradicted the search warrant for Jean’s apartment. Guyger had claimed in the initial affidavit that she saw a “large silhouette” across the room when she entered Jean’s apartment; the search warrant, conversely, states that Jean “confronted the officer at the door” after she opened the door “with a set of keys.”
What charges does Guyger face?
On September 9 — three full days after the shooting — Guyger was charged with manslaughter and released on $300,000 bond. However, Dallas County district attorney Faith Johnson told reporters on September 10 that Guyger could face a more serious charge — which turned out to be true. On November 30, a clerk with the Dallas County court told CNN that Guyger has been indicted on a murder charge.
(On September 24, after facing mounting criticism for taking no action against Guyger, Dallas Police announced that Chief U. Reneé Hall had fired her after an Internal Affairs investigation concluded that Guyger had “engaged in adverse conduct.”)
How is the public responding to the shooting?
On September 10, the Dallas Morning News reports that more than 100 demonstrators gathered outside police headquarters in Dallas to protest last week’s shooting. (Some were also there to protest the fatal shooting of 38-year-old Jorge Olguin, who was killed earlier this month by a security guard.)
“Race matters,” yelled former Dallas City Council member Diane Ragsdale, who calls Jean’s murder a tragic instance of racist police brutality.
On September 16, nine people who were protesting Jean’s killing were arrested outside of a Dallas Cowboys game at AT&T Stadium and charged with traffic obstruction, The Dallas Morning News reports.
There has also been public outcry over investigations conducted by the Dallas police, who have been accused of trying to discredit Jean. A police affidavit shows that after the shooting, investigators began looking for drug paraphernalia, weapons, and other forms of incriminating evidence — a move that has been heavily criticized by the public for being irrelevant to the investigation into his killing. In an interview with CBS News, Merritt said that police “immediately began looking to smear him.”
Meanwhile, Jean’s family members say they just want answers to their questions about what exactly transpired on the evening of September 6, because they don’t believe Guyger’s story.
“The No. 1 answer that I want is what happened,” Allison, Botham’s mother, said after the district attorney’s news conference. “I’ve been told that there are no answers yet.”
This post has been updated.