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Dallas officer who fatally shot neighbor inside his apartment indicted for murder

DALLAS — Amber Guyger, a white former Dallas police officer, has been indicted on a murder charge for the killing of Botham Jean, her black unarmed neighbor. Guyger has said she mistakenly went to his apartment instead of her own and shot him.

The court records were posted Friday before authorities were set to announce a grand jury's decision on the case. She was arrested days after the Sept. 6 shooting that killed Jean, 26, who was from the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia.

Guyger told investigators she mistook Jean's apartment for her own and thought she'd encountered an intruder. She has since been fired from the department and Jean's family has filed a lawsuit against Guyger and the city of Dallas.

Guyger told investigators after finishing a 15-hour shift, she returned home in-uniform and parked on the fourth floor of her apartment complex's garage, rather than the third floor, where her unit was located, according to an affidavit prepared by the Texas Rangers. 

She said she got to what she thought was her apartment — Jean's was directly above hers — and found the door ajar. She opened it to find a figure standing in the darkness. She said she pulled her gun and fired twice after the person ignored her commands.

Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Jean family, has said the document is an attempt to "condone what happened, give her a break."

The federal suit argues Guyger used excessive force in the shooting and contends the department did not give her adequate training.

The circumstances of the shooting sparked outrage and led many to question Guyger's account of what happened. Critics, including Jean's family, also wondered why it took three days for Guyger to be charged, why she wasn't taken into custody immediately after the shooting and whether race played a factor in her decision to use deadly force.

Jean's killing thrust Dallas into the national conversation on the intersection of race and law enforcement, a dialogue revived by the high-profile trials of officers charged with murder in police shootings.

In October, white Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 on-duty shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times.

And in August, white former Dallas-area officer Roy Oliver was convicted of murder after firing into a car filled with black teenagers leaving a house party in 2017 and fatally shooting 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.