“This is a huge victory not only for the family of Botham Jean but, as his mother told me a moment ago, this is a victory for black people in America,” attorney Lee Merritt told reporters. “It’s a signal that the tide is going to change here; police officers are going to be held accountable for their actions.”
Jury deliberations resume Tuesday afternoon to determine Guyger’s sentencing. She could get 5 to 99 years or life in prison; parole is not an option, the Morning News reported.
The verdict followed a high-profile seven-day trial that reconstructed the evening of Sept. 6, 2018, when Guyger mistakenly entered Jean’s apartment. The off-duty officer said she thought she was in her unit, one floor below, and that the unarmed accountant was burglarizing her home.
But Guyger, a white woman who had just finished a long shift at work, was on the wrong floor of the building. In a matter of seconds, prosecutors said, Jean — who was watching TV and eating ice cream in his own apartment — was dying on the floor, a fatal gunshot wound in his chest. He was 26 years old.
The shooting touched off days of protests in Dallas and demands for police reform. Many saw it as another egregious example of a white officer killing an unarmed black man, part of a pattern of police wielding deadly force disproportionately against people of color.
But the unusual facts of this case made it unique among other high-profile fatal shootings involving the police, most of which are never even prosecuted.
During the trial, Guyger took the stand, offering a tearful defense and repeated apologies.
“I shot an innocent man,” she said during her testimony, the first time the public had heard from her since the shooting.
Guyger’s lawyers have said the 31-year-old, who was fired from the police force shortly after she killed Jean, was exhausted and scared when she heard someone inside the unit she thought was her own. She opened the door, saw a “silhouette figure” in the dark apartment and feared for her life, they said. She said she asked to see his hands, but he just walked toward her. She fired two shots.
By her own admission, she was shooting to kill.