Dallas PD fires Officer Amber Guyger over Botham Jean shooting
DALLAS - Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall officially fired Amber Guyger on Monday for fatal shooting Botham Jean in his own apartment.
In a statement, the Dallas Police Department said Guyger was terminated during a hearing with the chief Monday morning. An internal affairs investigation found she "engaged in adverse conduct when she was arrested for manslaughter" and she was fired due to her "actions" the night of the fatal shooting.
Guyger was arrested for the death of her neighbor, Botham Jean. She claims she mistakenly went to the wrong apartment the night of Sept. 6 and shot Jean dead because she believed he was an intruder.
Chief Hall addressed concerns about Guyger's employment status late last week, saying she would not take action as long as the investigation was active because she didn't want to risk compromising the criminal case. That position apparently changed over the weekend as Guyger's firing was not expected.
"As a police chief, my job is to ensure the integrity -- the highest level of integrity -- in this criminal investigation," Hall said. "And that is what I did. And I waited until the critical portion of the investigation was complete."
But the chief did not elaborate on the "critical portion" she referred to. The police department's tweet about Guyger's firing used the term "adverse conduct."
"The adverse conduct would be any time you're a police officer and you're arrested for the commission of any offense, but certainly for a second-degree felony offense," said Russell Wilson, a former prosecutor who is not involved in the case. "The police department could view that as being adverse to the best interest of the department."
Jean's parents heard from Chief Hall Sunday night during a conference call with the family's attorneys.
"They saw this as an initial victory," said Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family. "She had to answer some tough questions from the family. Specifically, why it took so long and she tried to explain that the employment process could impact the criminal investigation."
Guyger's termination happened on the same day Jean was laid to rest in his native Saint Lucia.
Former First Assistant DA Messina Madson is now in private practice and not involved in the case. She says while Guyger's employment is settled, what charge she'll face is still not clear.
"The grand jury in listening to the case can return a true bill for anything they deem appropriate," Madson said. "So I would tell you murder is not out of the question at this point."
Attorney Jasmine Crockett is connected to the protests over the incident. She is among the voices who'd been calling for Hall to fire Guyger.
"I'm happy that we finally got to the correct result," Crockett said. "But I promise you if it wasn't for the community pushing on this issue, I just don't think that we would have arrived here at this point."
Legal experts told FOX 4 News there are already protections in place to prevent administrative procedures, like firing an employee, from conflicting with a criminal case. Attorneys for Jean's family had also criticized the chief for keeping Guyger on the force.
"I think it sends a strong message out to the community that the Dallas Police Department now has taken steps in the right direction with making that decision to fire this officer," said Daryl Washington, an attorney for Jean's family.
"I have heard the calls for this action from many, including the Jean family, and I agree that this is the right decision in the interest of justice for Botham Jean and the citizens of Dallas," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement. "The swift termination of any officer who engages in misconduct that leads to the loss of innocent life is essential if the Dallas Police Department is to gain and maintain the public trust. I know Chief Hall agrees with me on that and I appreciate her leadership. Once again, she's made the right call."
There has also been no word from the Dallas County District Attorney's Officer about when the criminal case will be presented to a grand jury.
The DA's Office is still preparing a criminal case to present to a grand jury. Although she was charged with manslaughter for Jean's death, District Attorney Faith Johnson said the grand jury could upgrade that charge.
A group of about 50 protesters gathered again Monday. They were pleased with Guyger's firing but still want her to be charged with murder.
Guyger has been with the department since 2013. She has the right to appeal the discipline.
Late Monday night, attorney Robert Rogers, who is representing Guyger released the following statement:
What happened on September 6th was a tragic mistake and words can never express our sorrow for the pain being suffered by those who knew and loved Botham Jean. Amber Guyger is completely devastated by what happened. Unfortunately, today Chief Hall bowed to pressure from anti-police groups and took action before all of the facts had been gathered and due process was afforded. That's not the way our system of justice should work. It is important for all parties and the integrity of the justice system that a full and fair investigation be allowed to reach its conclusion before decisions such as this are made.