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Ex-Dallas Officer Charged With Murder Of Unarmed Black Neighbor

Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger has been indicted on a murder charge in the killing of her black unarmed neighbor in his own apartment.
Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger has been indicted on a murder charge in the killing of her black unarmed neighbor in his own apartment.

The white former Dallas police officer who shot and killed her unarmed black neighbor in his apartment, which she says she had entered it by mistake, was indicted on a murder charge by a grand jury Friday.

Four-year police veteran Amber Guyger, 30, was originally charged with manslaughter three days after the Sept. 6 slaying of Botham Shem Jean, 26, a native of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and Dallas accountant.

As NPR reported on the aftermath of the controversial killing,

"An affidavit for an arrest warrant says the officer found the door ajar at what she thought was her own apartment. It says it was dark inside, she saw the silhouette of a man, and she gave him orders that he didn't follow. She told investigators she thought the man was a burglar.

"An attorney for the family disputed that version of events, according to WFAA TV. Lee Merritt said he talked with two witnesses who said they heard knocking at a door and a woman they believed to be the officer saying, 'Let me in.' He also said Jean had placed a red mat at his door to differentiate his apartment from the others...

"The killing sparked shock in the community — and speculation about whether Guyger's explanation should be taken at face value. And then there's the element of race: Guyger is white; Jean was black."

The killing set off days of protests by those who questioned why Guyger was not taken into immediate custody and why it took three days before she was charged with manslaughter.

Last week, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson told NPR's Here and Now that she believed that a murder charge against Guyger was appropriate.

In a news conference Friday, Johnson denied she had waited too long to seek a murder charge against Guyger.

"I was not bowing down to any political pressure to try to do it earlier because that was not justice," Johnson said as quoted by The Dallas Morning News. "Justice was to do it when we did it."

Guyger was fired from the Dallas Police Department almost three weeks after the killing. Jean's family has filed a lawsuit alleging excessive force.

She turned herself in Friday and posted a $200,000 bond.

According to the Morning News, Guyger is believed to be only the second Dallas police officer to be indicted for murder in at least 45 years. If convicted, she faces up to life in prison.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.