(Reuters) - A former Dallas police officer was charged with murder on Friday for shooting an unarmed black neighbor after she said she mistakenly went to his apartment instead of her own, the Dallas County District Attorney’s office said.
Officer Amber Guyger appears in a booking photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office, September 10, 2018. Kaufman County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS
Amber Guyger, 30, surrendered to authorities after a grand jury indicted her on a charge of murder in the Sept. 6 death of Botham Jean, 26, Dallas County District Attorney’s spokeswoman Kimberlee Leach said by phone.
Guyger, who lived in an apartment one floor below Jean’s unit, told investigators she mistook Jean for an intruder after she entered his apartment by mistake and he appeared in the darkness, police said.
Guyger entered the apartment after returning from a work shift and was able to enter because Jean’s door was slightly ajar, according to a police account of the incident.
The killing of an unarmed black man by a white officer in uniform sparked demonstrations in the Texas city, with protesters calling for Guyger, a four-year veteran of the Dallas police force, to be charged with murder. [nL2N1VW1CQ]
The shooting followed several years of scrutiny of law enforcement in the United States over questions of racial bias.
An attorney for Guyger did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Guyger was arrested in September for shooting Jean and initially charged with manslaughter, a lesser offense for an unlawful killing that does not involve malice aforethought. She was released after posting bond of $300,000.
The bond was re-instated after she was charged with murder, Leach said.
Within days of the manslaughter charge, authorities pledged to convene a grand jury to examine the shooting.
An attorney for the family of Jean, a native of the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia, expressed satisfaction at the grand jury’s decision.
“We believe this charge is appropriate given Guyger’s egregious act that night when she shot Mr. Jean in his own home,” the attorney, Ben Crump, said in a statement.
Guyger was at first placed on administrative leave after shooting Jean but was fired days later. The Dallas police chief cited her actions the night of the shooting and afterward as the reasons for her dismissal.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and Leslie Adler