(DALLAS) — Jurors in the murder trial of Amber Guyger, a white former Dallas police officer who shot dead an unarmed black man in his own apartment after mistaking it for her own, were shown the harrowing body camera footage in court from inside the apartment complex that captured arriving officers’ confusion after the incident.
Guyger, 31, is charged with murder stemming from the Sept. 6, 2018, fatal shooting of Botham “Bo” Jean at the South Side Flats apartment complex in Dallas. The trial began Monday.
For the first time Tuesday, the jury and public were able to go behind the walls of the complex as officers ran down the fourth-floor hallway to where Guyger was waiting with a severely injured 26-year-old Jean.
The body camera footage, which provided multiple viewpoints, showed responding officers seeming to have trouble getting inside the building — one officer could be seen jumping over a swimming pool wall to reach a gate — so they could reach Jean’s fourth-floor apartment.
“He’s in here. … I thought it was my apartment. I thought it was my apartment,” Guyger can be heard telling police.
“Where’d you shoot him?” an officer asks.
“Top left,” she says. “Top left.”
At one point in the video, officers on the scene could be seen taking turns desperately trying to revive Jean as he lay unconscious on his living-room floor. Several family members left the courtroom as the video was about to be played for jurors.
Prosecutors, however, highlighted one video in particular to suggest that Guyger had received preferential treatment.
“She’s hugging someone now?” Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Jason Hermus asked Sgt. Breanna Valentine on the witness stand.
“Yes,” Valentine testified.
At one point, Guyger was even allowed to sit in a patrol car, looking at her phone while Jean was rushed to the hospital, Hermus said.
The day had been already emotional as Guyger’s 911 call after the shooting was also played for the courtroom. Several people in the audience could be seen crying.
Guyger has claimed that after an almost 14-hour workday, she mistakenly went to the wrong floor of her apartment building. When she walked into what she thought was her home and saw someone inside, she said, she assumed it was an intruder and opened fire.
In court Tuesday, however, prosecutors pressed one responding officer about the protocol for when an officer believes that a burglary is in progess.
“What do you do?” Hermus asked.
“Cover and concealment,” Officer Michael Lee said.
“Is that because of the sanctity of human life?” Hermus followed up.
“Yes, sir,” Lee said.
During opening statements Monday, Hermus said that despite working a 13 1/2-hour shift on the day of the deadly encounter, Guyger appeared to be planning a rendezvous with her police department partner and lover. He argued that during her communications with her partner, Guyger became distracted and confused about where she was.
He said Guyger’s apartment was directly beneath Jean’s fourth-floor unit. Not only did Guyger mistakenly park on the wrong floor of the complex, she walked down a long hallway, passing 16 different apartments but failed to realize she was not headed to her front door, Hermus said.
Defense attorney Robert Rogers countered in his opening argument, however, that Guyger was exhausted from working 40 hours in four days and on “autopilot.” He also said that she was aware that residents of her apartment complex had experienced recent break-ins and car burglaries.
He also described the configuration of the South Side Flats apartment complex, where Guyger had lived for about two months, as “a confusing place” with floors in the parking garage and apartment doors not clearly marked.
Guyger was initially arrested and charged with manslaughter, but a Dallas County grand jury later indicted her on one count of murder.
She was fired from the Dallas Police Department 18 days after she fatally shot Jean. She had been a member of the department for five years and had been promoted to the department’s elite Crime Response Team.
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