Evening Express

Officer who shot dead man in ‘wrong flat’ charged with manslaughter

A white police officer who says she mistook her black neighbour’s flat for her own when she shot him dead has been charged with manslaughter.

Officer Amber Guyger was booked into the Kaufman County Jail after being taken into custody on Sunday, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

The department said the investigation in the off-duty shooting is ongoing and that no additional information was available.

Botham Jean’s mother and son at a prayer service after his killing (Shaban Athuman/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

A jail employee said Guyger was released on bond. Online records initially showed she was in custody, but she was later not listed on the jail inmate roster.

Guyger shot 26-year-old Botham Jean on Thursday at Mr Jean’s flat. Lawyers for Mr Jean’s family had been calling for Guyger’s arrest, saying the fact that she had remained free days after the shooting showed she was receiving favourable treatment.

They held a news conference on Sunday night, shortly before the arrest was announced, making another plea for the officer to be taken into custody and saying their team had presented new evidence — a witness and video footage — to prosecutors.

On Saturday, one of the lawyers, S Lee Merritt, said the man’s loved ones were not calling on authorities to jump to conclusions or to deny Guyger her right to due process. But he said they wanted Guyger “to be treated like every other citizen, and where there is evidence that they’ve committed a crime, that there’s a warrant to be issued and an arrest to be made”.

The group Mothers Against Police Brutality said the arrest is a “first step” toward justice and accountability but should have come sooner. Co-founder Sara Mokuria said the group expects transparency in the case going forward.

Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings tweeted a statement on Sunday night in which he thanked investigators, asked for continued prayers for Mr Jean’s family and said he appreciated that citizens and community leaders “were so respectful of the investigative process over these past few days”.

Police Chief Renee Hall said the day after the shooting that her department was seeking manslaughter charges against Guyger, 30, a four-year veteran of the police force. But Hall said on Saturday that the Texas Rangers, who have taken over the investigation, asked her department to hold off because they had learned new information and wanted to investigate further before a warrant was issued.

Meanwhile, Mr Jean’s family also hired lawyer Benjamin Crump, who is best known for representing the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

According to police, Guyger shot and killed Mr Jean after returning in uniform to the South Side Flats, where they both had apartments, following her shift. She reported the shooting to dispatchers and told officers who responded that she had mistaken Mr Jean’s apartment for her own.