Off-duty police officer Amber Guyger had several opportunities to notice she was entering the wrong apartment before she shot the occupant, Botham Jean, to death, the assistant district attorney told jurors on Monday.
But lead prosecutor Jason Hermus told jurors Guyger had been distracted by sexual texts she’d exchanged with her partner, Officer Martin Rivera, immediately before the shooting. Guyer had been engaged in an off-and-on sexual relationship with Rivera, the Dallas Morning News reports.
In fact, Guyger was reportedly on the phone with Rivera when she pulled into her complex’s parking garage just a few minutes before she entered Jean’s apartment.
On Sept. 6, 2018, Guyger, 31, parked her vehicle on the fourth floor of her apartment building after working a 13-hour shift at the Dallas Police Department. Still in uniform, she walked into Jean’s apartment instead of her own. She claims she did not realize she had entered the wrong apartment and that she mistook Jean for an intruder before shooting at him twice, striking Jean once in the chest.
Jean worked as an accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers and originally hailed from Saint Lucia. He was a graduate of Arkansas’ Harding University, his family told CNN.
Guyger was charged with murder and pleaded not guilty. The trial is expected to last about two weeks, and Guyger will reportedly be free on bond throughout. If convicted, she could face up to life in prison.
“A young man has died untimely. A young woman’s life is forever altered,” said Guyger’s defense attorney Robert L. Rogers during his opening statement at the Dallas County Court House. “It was a perfect storm of innocent circumstances that all came together … that led to this tragedy.”
But the county’s assistant district attorney argued that Guyger never gave Jean a chance to explain.
“Amber Guyger comes through his front door uninvited,” says prosecutor Jason Hermus. “There was no opportunity for de-escalation, no opportunity for him to surrender. Bang. Bang.”
Guyger allegedly missed many chances to recognize she wasn’t going to her own apartment located one floor below Jean’s.
Her neighbor had a decorative plant outside her door while Jean’s did not; Jean had a red welcome mat, while Guyger had none; and the No. 4 was posted outside each unit indicating she was on the fourth floor instead of her own floor, according to opening statements reported in the Dallas Morning News.
“For her errors, for her omissions, … [Jean] paid the ultimate price,” Hermus said, according to the article.