Officer accused of killing man in wrong apartment is fired: Chief

PHOTO: Amber Renee Guyger appears in an undated booking photo provided by the Kaufman County Jail.
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WATCH Police officer fired after fatal shooting at wrong apartment: Chief

A Dallas police officer charged with manslaughter in the wrong apartment fatal shooting of a man was fired Monday morning, according to an email sent by Police Chief Rene Hall.

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Officer Amber Guyger, 30, "engaged in adverse conduct" when she fatally shot Botham Jean, 26, at his apartment on the night of Sept. 6, Hall said in her email.

Hall said her decision to fire Guyger was made after an internal affairs investigation concluded on Sept. 9.

PHOTO: Amber Renee Guyger appears in an undated booking photo provided by the Kaufman County Jail.
Kaufman County Jail
Amber Renee Guyger appears in an undated booking photo provided by the Kaufman County Jail.

"Officer Guyger was terminated for her actions," Hall said in her email.

She said Guyger, who was hired by the police force in November 2013, has a right under civil service rules to appeal her discipline, Hall said.

Guyger's dismissal came just 10 days after Jean held a news conference and called for Guyger to be fired immediately.

Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Jean family, said Hall spoke with the victim's family and attorneys in a conference call on Sunday to tell them she intended to fire Guyger and explained why there was a delay in the action.

"Specifically she explained that a premature administrative suspension could have possibly implicated Guyger’s fifth amendment protections and compromised the criminal prosecution," Merritt said. "The Jean family expressed satisfaction in this explanation and in Guyger’s termination."

PHOTO: Botham Jean is seen leading worship at a university presidential reception in Dallas, Sept. 21, 2017.Jeff Montgomery/Harding University/AP
Botham Jean is seen leading worship at a university presidential reception in Dallas, Sept. 21, 2017.

He described the move by Hall "as an initial victory," noting that the decision was announced on the same day Botham Jean was buried in his native country, the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.

"However, we are committed to seeing through the next steps of the process of a proper murder indictment, conviction and appropriate sentencing," Merritt said.

Merritt said his office is conducting a parallel investigation of the shooting and is preparing to file a wrongful death civil lawsuit against Guyger and City of Dallas.

Merritt and other attorneys for the Jean family -- Benjamin Crump and Daryl Washington -- also released a joint statement praising the dismissal of Guyger as "a first step towards justice for Botham Shem Jean."

"As Botham Shem Jean's family has his homegoing service in St. Lucia this week, this announcement of Amber Guyger's termination from the Dallas Police Department is bittersweet for Botham’s family," the attorneys said in a statement.

Guyger's lawyer called the firing premature and said Hall had "bowed to pressure from anti-police groups."

"What happened on September 6th was a tragic mistake and words can never express our sorrow for the pain being suffered by those who knew and loved Botham Jean," Robert Rogers, Guyger's attorney, said in a statement. "Amber Guyger is completely devastated by what happened. Unfortunately, today Chief Hall bowed to pressure from anti-police groups and took action before all of the facts had been gathered and due process was afforded. That’s not the way our system of justice should work. It is important for all parties and the integrity of the justice system that a full and fair investigation be allowed to reach its conclusion before decisions such as this are made."

PHOTO: Allison Jean stands between her children, Allisa Charles-Findley and Brandt Jean, as she speaks at a press conference about her son who was killed by a police officer in Dallas on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018.WFAA
Allison Jean stands between her children, Allisa Charles-Findley and Brandt Jean, as she speaks at a press conference about her son who was killed by a police officer in Dallas on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he supported Hall's decision to terminate Guyger.

"I have heard the calls for this action from many, including the Jean family, and I agree that this is the right decision in the interest of justice for Botham Jean and the citizens of Dallas," Rawlings said in a statement.

"The swift termination of any officer who engages in misconduct that leads to the loss of innocent life is essential if the Dallas Police Department is to gain and maintain the public trust," the mayor said. "I know Chief Hall agrees with me on that and I appreciate her leadership. Once again, she's made the right call."

Jean -- who worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a multinational professional services firm with an office in Dallas -- was killed when Guyger mistook his apartment for her own and shot him when she opened the ajar door of the unit and saw a "large silhouette" that she thought was a burglar, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Guyger was arrested and charged with manslaughter three days after the shooting but Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said a grand jury will decide the ultimate charge. She has not ruled out seeking a murder indictment.

Earlier this month, Kaufman County Sheriff's Office released video of Guyger behind bars in handcuffs and jail attire. She does not speak during the video and was later released after posting $300,000 bond.

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