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Monday, 10 September 2018

Prosecutor suggests stronger charge against Dallas officer who killed neighbor.


Dallas County's top prosecutor suggested Monday that a stronger charge of murder is possible against the Dallas police officer who killed her neighbor after she mistakenly entered his apartment.

District Attorney Faith Johnson also attempted to deflect criticism of any potential special treatment in the case against Officer Amber Guyger to the Texas Rangers, the state's top law enforcement agency that was summoned to independently investigate last Thursday's fatal shooting.

It took almost three days before Guyger, 30, was arrested on a warrant for manslaughter after the fatal shooting of Botham Shem Jean, 26, and booked in a jail in neighboring Kaufman County. She was later released on a $300,000 bond, reported NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.

"That was totally their call, that was totally their responsibility, that was totally their lead," Johnson said at a news conference about how investigators first handled the case. "I cannot dictate to the Texas Rangers the process, the investigation, what they do and what they don't do."

Johnson reiterated Monday that the case against Guyger is now in the hands of her office, and it is gathering additional evidence it will present to a grand jury. She declined to discuss details about the case, including reports about why Guyger mistook the victim's apartment for hers and how she got inside.
Botham Shem Jean was shot when a Dallas police officer returning home from her shift entered the wrong apartment in her building.
When asked about the potential for a murder charge against the officer, Johnson said "that very well may be an option."

"The grand jury is going to have a full picture of what happened in this situation," she added.

The Texas Rangers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Still, Johnson said the Texas Rangers are vital in the case to bring transparency as opposed to allowing the Dallas Police Department to handle one of its own.

Johnson said the agency's investigation is ongoing and more witnesses must still be interviewed, but it will ultimately be up to a grand jury to formally decide any charges against Guyger.

It was unclear when the Texas Rangers will release an incident report in the case.

Dallas police said that Guyger had finished a full shift when she returned to her South Side Flats apartment building just south of downtown Dallas late Thursday.

Police have not detailed the interaction between the officer and Jean but officials said that she admitted to entering his apartment by mistake and at some point, shooting him.

During a news conference Friday, Dallas Police Chief ReneƩ Hall said a blood sample was drawn from Guyger to test the officer's drug and alcohol levels.

The Texas Rangers initially postponed a decision to pursue an arrest warrant — leading attorneys for Jean's family to demand the officer be treated like any other suspect in a shooting death.

"If there is probable cause that a crime has been committed in this jurisdiction, it is incumbent upon law enforcement, and in particular the district attorney's office, to issue a warrant for the arrest of the officer involved," attorney Lee Merritt said Sunday after a vigil at Dallas West Church of Christ.
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