Dallas Police Officer Accused in Botham Jean's Death Is Fired - NECN
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Dallas Police Officer Accused in Botham Jean's Death Is Fired

The department announced on Twitter that Guyger was "terminated for her actions" by Chief U. Renee Hall during a hearing Monday morning

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    Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger Fired Amid Manslaughter Investigation

    Amber Guyger, the Dallas police officer accused of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of her neighbor Botham Jean, has been fired. (Published Monday, Sept. 24, 2018)

    Amber Guyger, the Dallas police officer accused of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of her neighbor Botham Jean earlier this month, has been fired by the Dallas Police Department.

    The department announced on Twitter that Guyger was "terminated for her actions" by Chief U. Renee Hall during a hearing Monday morning.

    "An Internal Affairs investigation concluded that on September 9, 2018, Officer Guyger engaged in adverse conduct when she was arrested for Manslaughter," the department said.

    "As a police chief, my job is to ensure the integrity of the highest level," said Hall. "That is what I did, and I waited until the critical portion of this investigation was complete."

    Hall said that happened over the weekend. Guyger had a hearing at police headquarters Monday morning, which was followed by her firing.

    Guyger, 30, told investigators she returned home at the end of her shift Sept. 6 and found the door ajar to what she believed to be her apartment.

    In an arrest warrant affidavit, investigators have said Guyger described seeing a "large silhouette" in the apartment and that she gave "verbal commands that were ignored" prior to firing the shots that killed the 26-year-old Jean, her upstairs neighbor. Guyger told investigators she mistakenly believed the apartment was her own and that Jean was a burglar.

    Jean's family and their attorneys dispute those accounts and said information they gathered from witnesses will contradict Guyger's statements.

    "We're not sure why it took so long, but we're glad the chief of police made the decision to fire this officer," said Jean family attorney Daryl Washington. 

    On Monday night, Guyger's attorney released a statement saying "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."

    When asked last week why Guyger hadn't been terminated, Hall said she wasn't able to terminate the officer. She elaborated Thursday with the following statement:

    "There is one overriding reason that I have not taken any administrative or employment action against Officer Amber Guyger. I don't want to interfere with the on-going criminal investigation into her actions. Here's why. As an employer, DPD can compel Officer Guyger to provide a statement during a DPD administrative investigation and those statements given to DPD could potentially compromise the criminal investigation. That is not a risk I am willing to take. We cannot let the criminal case be determined on a 'technicality' rather than the facts. An exhaustive and thorough criminal investigation is essential, and as soon as we are assured that conducting an administrative investigation will not impede on the criminal investigation, we will proceed."

    Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement Monday that firing Guyger was the right move.

    "I have heard the calls for this action from many, including the Jean family, and I agree that this is right decision in the interest of justice for Botham Jean and the citizens of Dallas. 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," Rawlings said.

    Washington, one of the three attorneys representing Jean's family, commented on Guyger's firing Monday morning while at an unrelated "use of force" trial in Dallas County.

    "The Dallas Police Department has now stepped in and made a decision which is contrary to the decision Chief Hall said was going to be made just a few days ago," Washington said. "Obviously there has been enough information presented to the Dallas Police Department that would justify termination, so we're hoping that now that this has happened, it's our belief that perhaps the district attorney's office should have enough information to move forward with an indictment."

    Attorney Lee Merritt said the chief called the attorneys and Jean's parents last night and explained she intended to fire Guyger.

    "She had to answer some tough questions from the family, specifically about why it took so long and she tried to explain the employment process could, in fact, impact the criminal investigation. In other words, if she's faced to give a statement in protection of her job, that can infringe on her Fifth Amendment right and can affect the criminal investigation. It's a complicated question," Merritt said.

    Merritt said the family sees Guyger's termination as a victory -- especially on Monday, the same day Jean is being buried in St. Lucia. A memorial was held for Jean Sept. 13 in Dallas before his remains were flown to his native St. Lucia.

    "The nation of St. Lucia, has turned its attention to that burial service. This comes as a welcome relief, however there's still a long way to go," Merritt said.

    During a meeting with the Dallas City Council's Public Safety Committee Monday morning, Hall recommended suspending the department's 72-hour cooling off period following an officer-involved shooting. The current cooling-off period gives the officer three days before being compelled to make an official statement on the shooting.

    Hall's proposal said those statements should immediately follow an incident and that they should include mandatory drug testing. She also said she wanted to make sure there was communication with the community within five days of an incident and to expand citizen review power.

    Lastly, Hall said she wants to expand the department's fairness and bias training to include every officer and not just sergeants and new recruits.

     

    The Dallas Police Association offered no statement on Guyger's termination and said they will withhold comment until the ongoing investigation is complete.

    Guyger was arrested and faces a manslaughter charge, though Dallas County prosecutors have said they will conduct their own review to determine if a murder charge or other charges are more appropriate.

    Online -- Public Safety and Criminal Justice

    NBC 5's Noelle Walker, Maria Guerrero, Ken Kalthoff, Scott Friedman and Cody Lillich contributed to this report.