Attorneys in Texas Apartment Shooting Dispute Cop’s Story

DALLAS (CN) – Attorneys for the family of an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by a white Dallas cop who mistook his apartment for her own disputed Tuesday her claims that his door was ajar, citing witnesses who say they heard a female voice commanding the door be opened.

This photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office shows Amber Renee Guyger. Guyger, a Dallas police officer, was arrested Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, on a manslaughter warrant in the shooting of a black man at his apartment, Texas authorities said. (Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Attorney Lee Merritt disputed the claims made in the arrest affidavit for Amber Guyger, 30, who is facing a manslaughter charge. Guyger killed Botham Jean, 26, of St. Lucia, on Thursday night at the South Side Flats luxury apartments just south of downtown Dallas.

The affidavit states Guyger lives in the apartment directly under Jean’s and that their floors appear “identical or extremely similar” to one another.

“The door, which was slightly ajar prior to Guyger’s arrival, fully opened under the force of the key insertion,” the affidavit states. “Guyger observed that the apartment interior was nearly completely dark. Additionally, the door being opened alerted complainant Jean to Guyger’s presence. Believing she had encountered a burglar, which was described as a large silhouette, across the room in her apartment, Guyger drew her firearm, gave verbal commands that were ignored by complainant Jean. As a result, Guyger fired her handgun two times striking the complainant one time in the torso.”

Guyger did not realize she was in the wrong apartment until after she called 911 and turned on the lights, the affidavit added.

Merritt said Tuesday that it not plausible that that door was ajar because the doors in the apartment are designed to close unless propped open. He told CNN that Jean’s family insists he was a “very meticulous” person, an accountant who would not typically leave his door open and who would have not left the door ajar for guests that night.

He cited claims by Jean’s neighbors that he has spoken to that in the minutes before the shooting, he had not been expecting guests for the night.

Merritt talked about the disputed accounts at a press conference late Monday, relying on Jean’s family’s account of his nature.

“He is a person who is about his routines,” Merritt said. “That means when he comes into a room, he makes a point to close the door behind him, he hangs his keys onto a hook, he puts everything into a particular place. To make sure no one mistook his apartment, he went out and found the biggest and brightest red rug to place on his doorstep so that he can identify and others can identify that this is his apartment.”

Protesters in the shooting death of Botham Jean, gather at the Jack Evans Police Headquarters, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018 in Dallas. Jean was shot Thursday by off-duty Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who says she mistook his apartment for hers. (Shaban Athuman /The Dallas Morning News via AP)

Merritt said witnesses have told him they heard knocking and a female voice saying “let me in, let me in” before the shooting. He said he shared this information with Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson during a meeting with Jean’s family and that “they were not aware” of the information.

Co-counsel Benjamin Crump told reporters the affidavit is “very self-serving” and that Jean “is not here to give his version of what happened because he is dead.”

Police Chief U. Renee Hall expressed concern Tuesday about reports that her officers fired pepper balls during a protest against the shooting Monday night.

“I have asked our investigative unit to conduct a full review,” she said in a statement. “The use of pepper balls is governed by our general orders, and they are only to be utilized if instructed to do so by the on scene commander or if there is an immediate threat to the public.”

Guyger was arrested late Sunday. She posted $300,000 bond and was released from the Kaufman County Jail within an hour.

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