Judge Furious over Leaking of 911 Call from Dallas Cop after Killing Botham Jean
In the seconds after Dallas police officer Amber Guyger shot and killed a man inside his own apartment last year, she called 911 and expressed concern that she would lose her job instead of perform CPR on him.
But that revelation was only made public because someone possibly from within the Dallas Police Department leaked the audio clip to the media back in April in defiance of a judicial gag order.
Furious over the leak and the disregard of her rule, Texas District Judge Tammy Kemp called a hearing Thursday to get to the bottom of it as well as set the date for jury selection for Guyger's murder trial, which was set for September 6, the first anniversary of Botham Jean's death.
Kemp interrogated attorneys on any information as to who leaked Guyger’s 911 but both the defense and prosecution denied any involvement. The Dallas Police Department is investigating.
"I'm going to ask the media should you be contacted by someone who doesn't have the integrity or fortitude to abide by the law to decline to publish any information that they might have provided to you," Kemp said.
Last year, Guyger shot and killed unarmed 26-year-old Botham Jean inside his Southside Flats apartment. After allegedly finishing up a 12-hour shift, Guyger entered Jean’s apartment, thinking it was her own.
Her actual apartment was located one floor below Jean’s. According to Guyger, she thought Jean was an intruder. Court documents show Guyger fired her gun twice.
Guyger claims Jean’s front door was slightly ajar and opened when she tried to unlock it with her key, prompting Guyger to believe a burglar was inside her apartment. However, lawyers for Jean’s family said his door was closed and neighbors reported hearing someone bang on the door and demand to be let in.
Robert L. Rogers, Guyger’s lawyer, said “the law justifies her actions.”
“I believe it was reasonable for her to believe that she was being threatened with an intruder in her home and therefore she acted in self-defense,” Rogers was quoted as saying in a New York Times article from last year.
The Dallas County district attorney’s office began an independent investigation shortly after the shooting. One day later, Police Chief Renee Hall said the case was no longer being investigated as an officer-involved shooting and sought a warrant for Guyger’s arrest. What started out as a manslaughter charge shortly turned into a murder charge for the officer.
“We cannot have this culture where we shoot first and ask questions later,” Daryl Washington, a lawyer for Jean’s family, said.
Instead, police say they are investigating the source of the leaks.
After the leaked 911 recording, many speculated how little concerned Guyger actually appeared to be for Jean. Washington noted how quickly Guyger shot Jean without indicating she was in danger.
According to the 911 transcript:
Operator: What’s going on?
Guyger: I’m an off duty officer. I thought I was in my apartment and I shot a guy thinking he was, thinking it was my apartment.
Operator: You shot someone?
Guyger: Yes. I thought it was my apartment. I’m [expletive]. Oh my god. I’m sorry.
Operator: What’s your name?
Guyger: I’m Amber Guyger. I need, get me. I’m in.
Operator: OK we have help on the way.
Guyger: I know but I’m, I’m going to lose my job. I thought it was my apartment.
Jean's mother, Allison, told WFAA that Guyger never mentions Jean being a burglar in the call, and gave no explanation as to why she shot him.
"She said nothing to suggest that he was a threat to her," Jean said. "She said nothing to suggest that he was armed, that she sought to disarm him, or he rushed at her or he charged at her."
"Why use deadly force if someone isn't a threat?"
A video recording also showed her pacing outside the apartment while speaking with 911 instead of helping Jean in the apartment.
“The call made me strengthen my view that Amber Guyger is a cold-blooded killer because she was more concerned about losing her job than my son, the value of my son,” Allison, Jean’s mother, said.
Jean’s family have filed a lawsuit against the city and Guyger that is currently pending in federal court.
Listen to the 911 call above. Below is the video a neighbor recorded of Guyger after the shooting.