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Dallas officer facing manslaughter count after fatally shooting a neighbor could see more serious charges

Dallas officer facing manslaughter count after fatally shooting a neighbor could see more serious charges
Police officer Amber Guyger faces charges in the fatal shooting of a neighbor in her Dallas apartment building. This photo was provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office. (Associated Press)

A white Dallas police officer charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting last week of a black neighbor in an apartment she apparently mistook as her own could face more serious charges, authorities said Monday.

The case will be presented to a grand jury after all evidence related to the shooting Thursday night is collected, Dallas County Dist. Atty. Faith Johnson said.

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Officer Amber Guyger, 30, a four-year veteran, was arrested late Sunday in connection with the shooting, booked and freed on $300,000 bail. The Texas Rangers announced the arrest Sunday night but declined to provide details about the case.

The arrest followed outcry from family and friends of victim Botham Shem Jean, 26, a native of the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia, scion of a prominent, politically connected family.

Police Chief U. Renee Hall said during the weekend that the Texas Rangers asked police not to charge Guyger until they investigated further. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings posted a tweet thanking investigators and residents for being “respectful of the investigative process over these past few days.”

According to police, Guyger shot and killed Jean after going in uniform from the police department after her shift to the nearby South Side Flats apartment complex. After the shooting, she contacted dispatchers and told responding officers that she had mistaken Jean’s apartment for her own. Her blood was drawn at the scene so that it could be tested for alcohol and drugs, the police chief said, but the results have yet to be released.

The Dallas County medical examiner's office said Monday that he died of gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen. His death was ruled a homicide.

Last year, Guyger shot and wounded a man named Uvaldo Perez while she was on duty after he wrested her Taser away during a struggle. Guyger was not charged in connection with that shooting.

Jean’s relatives and friends had been calling for the officer’s arrest and still had questions Monday about what role race played in the shooting.

At a briefing shortly before the officer’s arrest late Sunday, the Jean family’s attorneys said they had provided prosecutors with new evidence — a witness and video footage — that they declined to share publicly.

On Monday, the attorneys released a statement saying, “the family is relieved that the officer who senselessly killed Jean will now face criminal charges for her reckless act” but that “many questions remain unanswered.”

“Black people have been killed by police in some of the most arbitrary ways in America,” said family attorney Benjamin Crump, who also represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

“Blacks have been killed for ‘driving while black’ in their automobiles, ‘walking while black’ in their neighborhoods and now ‘living while black’ in their own apartment. Each time it is more shocking than before,” Crump said. “This crime was not only a shock for the Jean family but also one that continues to astonish most sensible Americans.”

Jean’s neighbors, some of whom witnessed the shooting’s aftermath, also had questions Monday.

Alyssa Kinsey, 29, said she was sitting in her apartment next to Jean’s residence when she heard a gunshot, then "a commotion" in the hall. She said she ran to her door to listen and heard a female voice calling 911.

When she looked through her door’s peephole, she saw a woman on the phone who "sounded upset." Police responded within minutes, she said.

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Kinsey said she couldn't understand how the officer managed to pass numerous apartments between the elevator and Jean's unit, many distinctly decorated, without realizing she was on the wrong floor. Tenants use key fobs to enter halls and doors that flash red if they try the wrong unit, she said.

“It doesn't really make sense to me,” Kinsey said. “If her answer is legit, then she was obviously very distracted.”

1:10 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from a neighbor of the shooting victim.

This article was originally published at 10:55 a.m.

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