DALLAS (CN) – A Texas grand jury charged a white former Dallas police officer with murder Friday, two months after she was first charged with manslaughter for entering an apartment she mistook for her own and killing the unarmed black male neighbor inside.
Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson announced the indictment at a press conference while flanked by Botham Jean’s family, their attorneys and prosecutors from her office. She stressed her office seeking the murder charge “is not an indictment of all cops, we love our police.”
“These men and women go out and put their lives on the line every day,” she said. “This is about bad cops who break the law…we want equal justice.”
Johnson added that Amber Guyger, 30, turned herself in Friday after the charge was upgraded.
Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, said Guyger inflicted “tremendous evil” on her son. He was employed in Dallas as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers at the time of his death and was a 2016 alumnus of Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas.
“I look forward to what is next, which is a conviction for murder,” she told reporters. “And more so, the proper penalty to reflect on the pain she has caused.”
His father, Bertrum Jean, said his son was a “sweet boy” who “did not deserve” the way he died.
Guyger was first charged on Sept. 10, three days after she killed Jean, 26, of Saint Lucia, at the South Side Flats luxury apartment complex south of downtown Dallas.
Dallas police turned the case over to the Texas Rangers, who sought the initial manslaughter charge.
DA Johnson said her office had “spirited conversations” with the Rangers about whether to go for a manslaughter or murder charge.
Guyger now faces up to life in state prison on the murder charge.
It remains uncertain how Guyger entered Jean’s apartment. His family has steadfastly denied claims the door was left ajar and not locked, allowing Guyger to push her way in.
Lee Merritt, the family’s attorney, has insisted it is not possible for the door to be ajar because doors in the apartment complex are designed to close unless propped open. He has also cited witness claims that they heard knocking sounds and a female voice saying “let me in, let me in,” before the shooting.
Johnson explained that the element of intent to kill is what warranted the higher charge of murder instead of manslaughter.
“At the moment of the shooting, it was an intentional event,” she said.
Guyger was fired two weeks after the shooting at the conclusion of a police department investigation into the shooting.
Jean’s family filed a federal wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit against Guyger and the city on Oct. 26, claiming he was subjected to excessive force and that Guyger’s past social media posts on Pinterest indicate her “highly violent and anti-social propensities.”
The Dallas chapter of the NAACP said it was “pleased” with the murder charge.
“We call on the community to remain calm and let the criminal proceedings take its due course. However, we ask that you join us in continued prayer and support for the family and friends of Mr. Botham Shem Jean,” the group said in a written statement. “The Dallas NAACP will remain vigilant in monitoring the proceedings of this case and look forward to justice being rendered.”