Dallas cop in wrong apartment shooting may get a more serious charge than manslaughter

Dallas County district attorney Faith Johnson.
(Image credit: Rose Baca - Pool/Getty Images)

Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who fatally shot her neighbor, Botham Jean, may ultimately receive a more serious charge than manslaughter, for which she was arrested Sunday night, said Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson on Monday.

Guyger's case will go before a grand jury, Johnson told reporters, which may indict her on a graver charge. "The grand jury will be that entity that will make the final decision in terms of the charge or charges that will come out of this case," Johnson said. "We prepare to present a thorough case to the grand jury of Dallas County, so that the right decision can be made in this case."

Though police shootings have proved a stubborn exception to the rule, grand juries overwhelmingly choose to indict. The jurors only hear from the prosecutor — the defense does not present a case — so Johnson's expectation of charges beyond manslaughter have strong, though not certain, predictive power.

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Among the the issues the jury will likely consider is the question of how Guyger came to be in Jean's apartment, as reports on this subject have differed. According to her arrest warrant, Guyger, who is white, found the door ajar and fired on Jean, who was black, when she saw his silhouette in the dark apartment.

However, an early report by a local NBC affiliate cited an unnamed Dallas police officer saying the door was closed and Guyger "struggled with the lock" until Jean "swung open the door and startled her." A Tuesday CBS report seems to support the earlier account, as two other neighbors have come forward to say they heard Guyger knocking and asking to be let inside.

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of TheWeek.com. She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.