DALLAS (CN) – Prosecutors portrayed a white fired Dallas cop charged with murder as callous and uncaring Tuesday as they played body camera footage of her typing on her phone while first responders frantically tried to save the unarmed black man that she had just shot after mistaking his apartment for her own.
Amber Guyger, 31, was off duty and had turned her body camera in after working a 15-hour shift before erroneously entering the fourth-floor apartment of Botham Jean, 26, at the South Side apartments near downtown Dallas on Sept. 7, 2018.
Jurors instead saw the body camera footage of Officer Michael Lee, who responded to Guyger’s 911 call. The graphic footage shows Jean shirtless and in white boxer shorts lying face down on the floor as first responders immediately began to perform CPR and load him onto a stretcher.
As Lee enters the hallway outside of Jean’s apartment, Guyger is shown in uniform on her cellphone and appears to be texting. She repeatedly tells the first responders that she thought she was entering her apartment and was asked to step outside Jean’s apartment as they worked on him.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Hermus said during opening statements Monday that Guyger was busy texting her police partner instead of trying to save Jean.
“It was the point of her existence to take care of that man,” he said. “But the record shows that while she was alone with a dying Bo, she messaged her police partner Martin Rivera stating ‘I need you’ and ‘I fucked up.’”
Hermus emphasized to the jury Tuesday that Guyger’s decision to shoot so quickly after entering Jean’s apartment was unreasonable, asking Lee about officers being trained to take cover and allow someone to surrender before opening fire.
On cross-examination, Lee agreed with defense attorneys that he would be prepared to use deadly force if he perceived someone inside his home was a danger to his life.
Hermus, however, repeatedly emphasized that it was unreasonable to perceive the unarmed Jean as a threat, noting he was seated on his couch eating ice cream.
Prosecutors claim Guyger mistakenly parked on the fourth floor instead of the third floor, where her apartment was, because she was distracted by sexually explicit text messages with Rivera that indicate the two were planning on meeting later that night.
Rivera testified Monday that he was not planning on meeting with Guyger that night and that they were only flirting.
Wearing a dark dress and white sweater, Guyger silently wept Tuesday as her 911 call was played for the jury. She is heard saying several times, “I thought it was my apartment, I thought it was my apartment,” while profusely apologizing to a dying Jean.
“I am done, I did not mean to, oh my God” she said on the call. “I did not mean to. I am sorry, I am sorry. Hey, bud.”
Jean’s parents, Bertram and Allison Jean, of St. Lucia, were visibly emotional in the gallery as the call was played. Bertram covered his face with one hand while tightly hugging his wife with his other arm. Both parents stood up and left the courtroom as the body camera footage was played.
The jury was not present when prosecutors sought to play more video that indicates Guyger may have received special treatment from her fellow officers in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. In video from the cruiser of Officer Breanna Valentine, a Dallas Police Association official allegedly told Guyger to step out of the car and that video cuts out immediately after.
Prosecutors claim Guyger was told not to talk and that there may be audio recording in the car. Dallas County District Judge Tammy Kemp ruled against admitting the evidence after considering the defense objections during the jury’s lunch break.
Jean was employed as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas. He was a 2016 alumnus of Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, and had grown up in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.
His death has drawn strong national interest as critics have deemed it as another example of an unarmed, young, black male being killed by a white police officer.
Guyger’s supporters have denied race playing any role in the killing and that she had no idea what Jean’s race was when she pulled the trigger.
Dallas police have faced intense scrutiny in the aftermath, as it took several days for Guyger to be charged with manslaughter due to the Texas Rangers being asked to handle the investigation. She was allowed to remain free in the days after the shooting and was allowed to quietly turn herself in to a suburban jail after being charged, spurring accusations of favoritism.
The charges against Guyger were upgraded to murder three months after the shooting after prosecutors concluded Guyger’s alleged “intent” to kill warranted the higher charge.
The trial is expected to last two weeks, with jurors sequestered the entire time. Guyger faces up to life in state prison if convicted of murder. Jurors will also have the option of conviction on lesser charges of manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.