On Sept. 6, 2018, Botham Jean, a 26-year-old black accountant, was shot and killed by his downstairs neighbor, a 31-year-old white officer named Amber Guyger.
The shooting and the ensuing investigation at the hands of the Texas Rangers have spurred contentious debate. Guyger was indicted two months after on a murder charge.
Her trial started Sept. 23.
The timeline of events:
Sept. 6, 2018: The shooting of Botham Jean
After an extended shift, Guyger drives to the South Side Flats Thursday evening in Dallas. According to her account, she accidentally parks on the fourth floor of the parking lot, a floor above from where she normally parks.
Believing she was on the third level, Guyger alleges, she walked to what she thought was her apartment. It wasn't. It was Jean's unit, located directly above her residence. At some point, the off-duty officer, still in uniform, makes contact with an unarmed Jean, who she shoots twice. Guyger calls 911 at about 10 p.m. and Jean is transported to a nearby hospital where he's pronounced dead.
Sept. 7, 2018 (Morning): News breaks
News of Jean's shooting death breaks. Dallas police reveal an unnamed officer shot and killed a man she believed to be an intruder. Officials say the officer has been placed on administrative leave and that they're working with the Dallas County District Attorney's Office on the investigation.
Later in the morning, the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office identifies the victim as Botham Shem Jean, a native of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean who moved from Arkansas where he graduated from Harding University to Dallas to work at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Sept. 7, 2018 (Afternoon): Arrest warrant on the way?
Chief Renee Hall holds a press conference to pledge the Dallas Police Department will be transparent during the investigation. Hall says blood was drawn from the officer involved for alcohol and drug testing.
"And at my request, we are in the process of obtaining a warrant based on the circumstances we have right now," Hall says.
The chief also reveals they have asked the Texas Rangers to conduct an independent investigation of the case. She also says it's still unclear "what interaction was between them [the officer and Botham]" that led to the shooting. The officer's identity isn't revealed. It's expected the officer will be charged with manslaughter.
Sept. 7, 2018 (Evening): Rumors and confusion swirl
As demand for the identity of the officer grows, rumors begin to swirl and so do various accounts of what happened from unnamed sources.
Among the rumors on social media is a photo of Botham Jean with three white females. This photo is shared on multiple social media platforms with people claiming one of the women is the officer involved in the shooting who dated Botham. It's later disproved when Amber Guyger is identified. However, the photo still pops up on social media posts.
To add to the confusion, conflicting accounts from sources of what led to the shooting also spread, with some accounts ending up in the news.
A vigil for Jean takes place outside the Dallas Police Department with people demanding answers.
Sept. 8, 2018 (Morning/afternoon): Police "hold off" on warrant
As Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings meets with Jean's mother, citizens continue to await news of a warrant. The mayor says Jean's mother told him, "I'm not angry. I'm heartbroken, and I want to make sure all of the truth is told." The mayor asks Dallas residents to be patient with the Texas Rangers.
Hall later says "we [the Dallas Police Department] have no role in the investigation process." She also says the Rangers asked her to "hold off" on issuing a warrant for the officer, who still hasn't been identified.
Sept. 8, 2018 (Evening): Officer Amber Guyger identified
At 7:16 p.m., Officer Amber Guyger, a four-year veteran with the Dallas Police Department, is identified as the shooter. It's confirmed Jean didn't know Guyger.
Sept. 9, 2018: Guyger arrested
Shortly after news of Guyger's arrest surfaces, Lee Merritt, the attorney for Jean's family, holds a news conference in which he says "justice demands she be arrested."
Guyger is arrested by the Texas Rangers in Kaufman County and charged with manslaughter nearly 72 hours after the shooting. Not long after she's booked, Guyger is released on a $300,000 bond. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony in Texas punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. The case moves on to the Dallas County District Attorney's Office.
Sept. 10, 2018 (Morning): Dallas DA also investigating
While Guyger is arrested on a charge of manslaughter, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson says a grand jury makes the ultimate decision, meaning the charge can be changed to murder. She also says the DA's office is investigating the case as well.
Sept. 10, 2018 (Afternoon): Warrants present different details
Two warrant affidavits are released: The arrest warrant affidavit for Guyger, which was written by Texas Rangers investigators, and the search warrant affidavit for Jean's apartment (the scene of the incident), which was written by a Dallas police detective shortly after the shooting.
The two accounts of the shooting offer slightly different details. The arrest warrant affidavit says Guyger found Jean's front door "slightly ajar," and then opened it by pushing a key into the door. When she opened the door fully, Guyger saw a "large silhouette" across the room and began giving commands, which Jean "ignored," the affidavit says.
The search warrant affidavit also says that Jean's door was open when Guyger inserted a key but that Jean "confronted the officer at the door." A neighbor told police that he "heard an exchange of words, immediately followed by at least two gunshots," the search warrant affidavit says.
Neither affidavit details how close, specifically, Guyger and Jean were to each other during the encounter.
While Guyger claims in the search warrant she believes Jean left the door ajar because he may have been waiting for someone, residents question if that's possible. Multiple videos are shared online showing how the key and door system work at the complex.
In one video, a person shows that when you use the wrong key on a door a red light flashes. And when at the right door, a green light flashes.
In another video, the poster uses a key to open the door and shows the door swing itself close, unable to stay ajar unless someone uses the deadbolt.
Sept. 10, 2018 (Evening): Attorneys say Guyger was heard saying, "Let me in"
After the arrest and search warrant affidavits were released, Lee Merritt, the attorney representing the family of Botham Jean, releases new details himself. Merritt says at least two witnesses claimed to have heard knocking on Jean's door, followed by the voice of a woman believed to be Guyger, saying, "Let me in, let me in."
Merritt says one of the witnesses said after she heard the gunshots go off, she heard a male voice say, "Oh my God, why did you do that?"
Sept. 13, 2018: Funeral held for Botham Jean
More than 1,500 people gather at Greenville Avenue Church of Christ in Richardson to remember the life of Botham Jean.
"A nuke had been unleashed on our family by someone charged to protect and serve,” Ignatius Jean tells the church as he spoke about his nephew.
“Botham Shem Jean was not a silhouette,” said family friend Dane Felicien.
His friend and business mentor, Tommy Bush, told the church how Botham aimed high in pursuit of excellence in everything he tackled. "Don’t tell me not to grieve,” Bush cried. “Don’t tell me not to grieve. I’m not there yet.”
Sept. 13, 2018: Search warrant returned from Jean's apartment
A returned search warrant from Jean's apartment is released by officials.
Police seized two bullet casings, a police backpack and vest and 10.4 grams of marijuana, the warrant says. Authorities say the marijuana was on Jean's kitchen counter. If the marijuana belonged to Jean, it wouldn't have been enough to arrest him under Dallas’ cite-and-release policy.
A lunch box, a laptop computer, a metal marijuana grinder, two keys, and two used packages of medical aid were also seized from the unit.
Authorities didn't release more information about the seized items. The release of the search warrant draws widespread backlash, with the attorneys for Botham Jean's family questioning why seized items from Jean's apartment, specifically the marijuana, were relevant.
Lee Merritt and Benjamin Crump, the attorneys for Jean's family, learn about the search warrant details shortly after Jean's funeral.
Merritt says the warrant "highlights just sort of the nefarious nature of their investigation."
Sept. 14, 2018: More backlash to search warrant details
Botham Jean's family and attorneys hold a news conference, again speaking out against the release of the search warrant details.
"The information released yesterday, was worse than the call I received last Friday," said Jean's mother, Allison Jean. "To have my son smeared so bad shows the bad in Dallas police."
Legal experts say there are valid reasons investigators would have searched Jean's apartment.
During the conference, Jean's mother also asks the authorities to share Guyger's toxicology report. This is a demand echoed by citizens.
Sept. 21, 2018: Investigators seek doorbell camera video
Investigators ask for search warrants for doorbell camera footage from townhouses near the complex where Jean was killed. The Dallas District Attorney’s Office requests records from Ring, a home security company. They specifically seek footage captured from 8 a.m. to midnight on Sept. 6 from townhomes on Arch Place.
Sept. 24, 2018: Guyger is fired
More than two weeks after the shooting and after protests call for her termination, the Dallas Police Department fires Guyger.
Oct. 26, 2018: Jean's family files federal lawsuit
Botham Jean's family files a a federal lawsuit against Guyger and the city of Dallas. The 28-page suit accuses Guyger of excessive force, "resulting in the wrongful death" of Jean. It also says Police Chief Renee Hall "failed to implement and enforce such policies...that respected Jean's constitutional rights."
Nov. 26, 2018: Grand jury convenes
The Dallas County grand jury convenes to hear evidence against Guyger. They're tasked with deciding whether Guyger will be cleared in the case or go to trial for manslaughter or murder.
Nov. 30, 2018: Guyger indicted on a murder charge
Five days after they convened, a grand jury in Dallas indicts Guyger on a murder charge, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the case. The Dallas DA says Guyger turned herself in and posted bond following the indictment.
Jan. 8: Guyger makes first court appearance
Guyger, appearing before Judge Tammy Kemp, is in court for the first time since her murder indictment in the death of Botham Shem Jean.
The first official step in the judicial process, the court appearance was for an announcement hearing, expected to be largely exploratory in nature. In announcement hearings, the defense typically seeks evidence from the prosecution or files to have charges dropped.
Guyger was seen arriving at the courthouse before the 9 a.m. hearing. Her attendance was expected but not required.
March 18: Guyger appears in court, judge sets trial date
Guyger appeared in court for an announcement hearing. Judge Tammy Kemp set her trial date for Aug. 12, but that could change, as Guyger's attorneys are expected to request a change of venue to move the trial out of Dallas County.
July 8: Guyger's defense attorneys ask for a change of venue
Defense attorneys filed a length change of venue motion asking the case to be moved out of Dallas County. The attorneys claim the media coverage has been so pervasive that an average of an article a day was published in 10 months.
“The case has been infamous and not merely notorious," they wrote in the motion.
Sept. 6: Jury selection begins
Jury selection began before the Sept. 23 trial. The judge said she would not hear arguments on the request for the change of venue motion until it's clear that a fair and impartial jury cannot be selected. She has asked the attorneys in the case to select four alternates for the jury.
Sept. 13: Jury selected
A jury of 12, including eight jurors and four alternates, is selected. Judge Kemp said the jury will likely be sequestered for the duration of the case.
Sept. 16: The trial will remain in Dallas County
Judge Kemp denied the defense attorneys request to move the trial out of Dallas County. While Guyger's attorneys said the former officer wouldn't be able to get a fair trial in the county because of negative news coverage, prosecutors argued a fair and impartial jury was seated.
Sept. 23: Guyger trial begins
With many questions still unanswered, Guyger's trial began. Day one started with opening statements and three people took the stand:
- Alyssa Findley, Jean's sister
- Sgt. Robert Watson, Guyger's former supervisor
- Officer Martin Rivera, Guyger's former police partner who she once was involved in an intimate relationship
Prosecutors say Guyger missed multiple clues she was on the wrong floor while walking toward Jean's apartment. They also allege she was distracted and too focused to help Jean after she shot him because she was communicating with Rivera, who she sent two texts before officers arrived at the scene. In the texts, she told Rivera she needed his help and that she "f----d up."
They also addressed how Guyger was able to get into Jean's apartment. Prosecutors said the door was defective, which meant it didn't close or lock properly.
At the time Guyger entered his apartment, prosecutors said, he was eating ice cream on his couch and watching TV.
Sept. 24: Day two of the trial
Day two of the trial started with Guyger's 911 call.
In the call, Guyger says over and over, "I thought it was my apartment."
"I'm f----d," she says.
"I'm gonna lose my job," she continues.
Neighbors took the stand to describe what they heard the night of the shooting.
Without the jury in the room, Prosecutor Jason Hermus alleged Guyger received special treatment during the investigation of the shooting. Based on dashcam video and other evidence presented by Hermus, Kemp determines this line of questioning was irrelevant to the murder case.
Sept. 25: Day three of the trial
Prosecutors and the defense present different theories on how Amber, who is 5 feet 3 inches tall, was able to shoot downward at Botham Jean, who was 6 feet 1 inch tall.
A medical examiner testified that a bullet went into his chest and traveled downward, stopping in a muscle near his spine.
Prosecutors say Jean was sitting on his couch when he was shot.
But defense attorneys claim Jean was lunging toward her when he was shot and possibly crouched down moments before Guyger fired the shot, which led to the downward angle of the bullet trajectory.
With the jurors not in the courtroom, David Armstrong, the lead investigator in the case, said in his opinion, Guyger didn't commit a crime when she shot Jean and reasonably believed Jean was a threat at the time.
Judge Kemp said she wouldn't allow Armstrong's opinion to be shared with the jury in the room and also ruled he couldn't reasonably know where Jean was at the time he was shot.
Sept. 26: Day four of the trial
The state rested their case against Guyger after calling two officers and two Texas Rangers to the stand.
Sept. 27: Day five of trial
For the first time since the night of the deadly shooting, the public heard from Guyger, who took the stand. She was the first person to be called by the defense after the state rested their case a day before.
Guyger described the moment she said she accidentally went to the wrong apartment, believing it was her own. The former officer testified that the door opened when she put her key in and that was when she saw "a figure" she believed to be an intruder.
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She told the "silhouette of a figure" to put up their hands, she said on the stand. But Guyger said the figure walked toward her while "aggressively" saying, "Hey! Hey! Hey!" That's when she fired two shots.
During cross-examination, the prosecution grilled Guyger over her actions after the shooting, questioning why she didn't give Jean proper CPR or use the first aid kit that was inside a backup she was carrying.
They also questioned why she didn't fall back on her police training when she heard movement inside the unit, saying she should have taken cover and called for backup rather than enter the apartment.
Hermus accused Guyger of being more focused on herself after the shooting than Jean, also asking the former officer about texts she sent Rivera directly after the shooting and two days later. Guyger confirmed days after the shooting, she sent Rivera flirtatious texts and messages about "getting drunk."
Others called by the defense described how they too have experienced door malfunctions. In one case, a resident at the South Side Flats testified he went to the wrong apartment and was able to enter, only realizing it was the wrong unit when he came across a woman he didn't know sitting on her sofa.
Hermus questioned Guyger's motives during the shooting.
“All this talk about a sad mistake, when the rubber meets the road, you intended to kill Mr. Jean,” Hermus said.
“He (Jean) was the threat, yes sir,” Guyger responded.
“You intended to kill Mr. Jean?” Hermus asked.
“I did,” Guyger testified.
Sept. 28: Day six of trial
The lead investigator in the case, Texas Ranger David Armstrong, once again took the stand Saturday. The judge again refused to allow the defense to ask Armstrong about his opinion about whether Guyger was guilty of a crime in the shooting.
The defense, instead, asked Armstrong to give a general idea of the “sensations that a person might experience when confronted with a quickly evolving tense, dynamic confrontation with a suspect.”
The trial will resume at 8:30 a.m. Monday.
Sept. 30: Day seven of trial
No witnesses were called to the stand Monday as the trial resumed.
After hearing objections from the defense and prosecution, Kemp read the charge to the jury, outlining what they would be deciding and the key definitions they needed to consider.
Kemp also ruled jurors could consider the "Castle Doctrine," which refers to Senate Bill 378. The bill says when someone is in their home, car or business, they can use deadly force to protect themselves from intruders.
The state and defense gave closing arguments.
Prosecutor Jason Fine called Guyger's defense of stand your ground after she accidentally went to the wrong apartment "garbage."
“It’s not a mistake,” Fine said. “It’s a series of unreasonable decisions.”
Defense attorney Toby Shook spoke next, calling the shooting a "horrible perfect storm" of circumstances.
“The law recognizes that mistakes can be made,” he said.
The last person who jurors heard from was prosecutor Jason Hermus.
“Self-defense means acting defensively,” Hermus said. “She became the aggressor. That’s not self-defense.”
Oct. 1: The verdict
Late in the morning, the jury announced a verdict was reached.
Guyger was found guilty of murder.
After the verdict was read, Kemp released the jury for a lunch break. The sentencing phase was scheduled to resume early Tuesday.
Guyger faces a five to 99-year sentence.
Oct. 2: The sentencing
The jury sentenced Amber Guyger to 10 years, following an hour and a half of deliberation. The sentencing came down around 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
The jury heard from witnesses from the defense and prosecution all morning and into the early afternoon hours.