A judge ruled earlier this week that Dallas could not be held liable as part of a civil suit filed after a former police officer murdered an innocent and unarmed Black man in his own home last year. That means that the Dallas Police Department also can’t be held responsible for Amber Guyger shooting Botham Jean to death while he was watching TV and eating ice cream in his apartment.
The news was a stunning turn of events for those expecting justice to prevail in a case that did see Guyger get convicted of Jean’s murder before she was given a relatively light prison sentence for the unprovoked shooting death of the 26-year-old St. Lucia native.
According to the Dallas Morning News, U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn on Monday dismissed the city from the lawsuit filed by Jean’s family. Guyger, who was convicted of murder in October and could be out of prison in a few short years, is now the only defendant remaining on the lawsuit, “making a high-dollar settlement unlikely,” as the Dallas Morning News put it.
The lawyer representing Jean’s family disagreed with the ruling and argued that if Guyger had been better trained by the Dallas Police Department then she would have known how to prevent herself from shooting Jean, who the court determined did not pose a threat to the off-duty officer.
“There are a number of things that Amber Guyger did not do or said she did not recall how to do,” Daryl Washington told the Dallas Morning News. “If this stuff was drilled into police officers, we would not have people saying they weren’t familiar with deescalation practices.”
In the end, Dallas was removed from the lawsuit over a technicality: Guyger was off-duty. Had she been on duty, chances are that the city of Dallas would have been held liable. The circumstances surrounding Guyger killing Jean were just too unique and couldn’t be compared to other police shootings, an independent and unidentified judge said in October when he recommended Dallas be removed from the lawsuit.
Washington, the lawyer for Jean’s family, previously argued Guyger was on-duty since police officers take an oath to uo0hold the law no matter what.
“As we allege in our pleadings and as we have always argued, Amber Guyger was clearly on duty,” Washington said in October. “The great majority of the evidence, and the presentation by Amber Guyger’s side, was that she was a police officer and that she acted as a police officer would behave.”
Dismissing Dallas from the lawsuit followed what appeared to be a pattern of preferential treatment extended to the convicted murderer. Following her verdict being read, Guyger was given a hug and a bible by Judge Tammy Kemp, who presided over the murder case. A bailiff was even seen stroking Guyger’s hair in court. Guyger was facing up to 99 years in prison but managed to walk away with just a 10-year sentence.
On September 6, 2018, Guyger said she mistakingly entered Jean’s apartment after a long day at work as a Dallas police officer. She says she mistook Jean for a crook and ordered him not to move. Then she shot him twice before realizing her catastrophic error.
Guyger’s murder trial took a full seven days, ending much faster than expected. Guyger admitted under cross-examination that she intended to kill Jean when she shot him, and the former officer also admitted that she was trained in CPR but refrained from performing the life-saving technique on Jean after she shot him. Instead, the 911 call she made along with her actions following the incident suggested that she was more concerned about saving herself rather than Jean.