Amber Guyger, the Dallas police officer accused of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of her neighbor Botham Jean earlier this month, has been fired by the Dallas Police Department.
The department announced on Twitter that Guyger was “terminated for her actions” by Chief U. Renee Hall during a hearing Monday morning.
“An Internal Affairs investigation concluded that on September 9, 2018, Officer Guyer engaged in adverse conduct when she was arrested for Manslaughter,” the department said.
Guyger, 30, told investigators she returned home at the end of her shift Sept. 6 and found the door ajar to what she believed to be her apartment.
In an arrest warrant affidavit, investigators have said Guyger described seeing a “large silhouette” in the apartment and that she gave ”verbal commands that were ignored” prior to firing the shots that killed 26-year-old Jean, her upstairs neighbor. Guyger told investigators she mistakenly believed the apartment was her own and that Jean was a burglar.
Jean’s family and their attorneys dispute those accounts and said information they gathered from witnesses will contradict Guyger’s statements.
When asked last week why Guyger hadn’t been terminated, Hall said she wasn’t able to terminate the officer. She elaborated Thursday with the following statement:
“There is one overriding reason that I have not taken any administrative or employment action against Officer Amber Guyger. I don’t want to interfere with the on-going criminal investigation into her actions. Here’s why. As an employer, DPD can compel Officer Guyger to provide a statement during a DPD administrative investigation and those statements given to DPD could potentially compromise the criminal investigation. That is not a risk I am willing to take. We cannot let the criminal case be determined on a ’technicality’ rather than the facts. An exhaustive and thorough criminal investigation is essential, and as soon as we are assured that conducting an administrative investigation will not impede on the criminal investigation, we will proceed.”
Darryl K. Washington, one of the three attorneys representing Jean’s family, commented on Guyger’s firing Monday morning while at an unrelated “use of force” trial in Dallas County.
“The Dallas Police Department has now stepped in and made a decision which is contrary to the decision Chief Hall said was going to be made just a few days ago,” Washington said. “Obviously there has been enough information presented to the Dallas Police Department that would justify termination, so we’re hoping that now that this has happened, it’s our belief that perhaps the district attorney’s office should have enough information to move forward with an indictment.”
Attorney Lee Merritt said the chief called the attorneys and Jean’s parents last night and explained she intended to fire Guyger.
“She had to answer some tough questions from the family, specifically about why it took so long and she tried to explain the employment process could, in fact, impact the criminal investigation. In other words, if she’s faced to give a statement in protection of her job, that can infringe on her 5th Amendment right and can affect the criminal investigation. It’s a complicated question,” Merritt said.
Merritt said the family sees Guyger’s termination as a victory — especially on Monday, the same day Jean is being buried in St. Lucia. A memorial was held for Jean Sept. 13 in Dallas before his remains were flown to his native St. Lucia.
“The nation of St. Lucia, has turned its attention to that burial service. This comes as a welcome relief, however there’s still a long way to go,” Merritt said.
During a meeting with the Dallas City Council’s Public Safety Committee Monday morning, Hall recommended suspending the department’s 72-hour cooling off period following an officer-involved shooting. The current cooling-off period gives the officer three days before being compelled to make an official statement on the shooting.
Hall’s proposal said those statements should immediately follow an incident and that they should include mandatory drug testing. She also said she wanted to make sure there was communication with the community within five days of an incident and to expand citizen review power.
Lastly, Hall said she wants to expand the department’s fairness and bias training to include every officer and not just sergeants and new recruits.
The Dallas Police Association offered no statement on Guyger’s termination and said they will withhold comment until the ongoing investigation is complete.
Guyger was arrested and faces a manslaughter charge, though Dallas County prosecutors have said they will conduct their own review to determine if a murder charge or other charges are more appropriate.