Officials in Dallas were intentionally withholding the 911 call former police officer Amber Guyger made after she shot and killed Botham Jean in his own apartment last month. The news first reported by the Dallas Morning News was the latest sign that authorities may be trying to cover up the shooting that appeared to be a police murder of a Black man but only resulted in manslaughter charges.
“An attorney for the city said in a letter dated Monday that the Dallas Police Department and Dallas County district attorney’s office are asking Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to allow them to withhold the 911 recording requested by The Dallas Morning News,” the news outlet reported Tuesday afternoon. “Assistant City Attorney Pavala Armstrong wrote that releasing the information would interfere with the investigation into the Sept. 6 shooting.”
The decision to not make the 911 call public — a practice that has become more than common in the aftermath of police shootings — followed a series of questionable moves by law enforcement following the shooting.
Chief among those decisions was announcing the irrelevant discovery of marijuana in Jean’s apartment. Critics said officials were trying to assassinate Jean’s character after Guyger physically killed him. Another seemingly blatant display of trying to protect Guyger was allowing her to move out of her own apartment before police could execute any of the five warrants the court issued to search her home. There was also the three-day delay in arresting Guyger, a time lapse that could have allowed her to shore up her implausible and flimsy alibi of not knowing she was entering an apartment that she didn’t live in. Oh, did we mention the manslaughter charge instead of returning a murder indictment? What about Police Chief U. Renee Hall insisting she was “prohibited” from firing Guyger one week before she actually terminated the killer cop? And what’s taking so long to analyze the electronic locks that can determine if Jean’s door was unlocked, something Jean’s family said would have been out-of-character for him to do?
So many questions. Perhaps some of them could be answered by making the 911 call public.
The list of all the ways police seem to be trying to cover-up the shooting is exhaustive. For more, see this comprehensive timeline of Guger killing Jean.
But suffice to say that police have been far from transparent during this entire, painstaking process, which does nothing but stoke the flames of doubt and widen the already extensive gap between police and the communities they are tasked with protecting and serving.