By Scotty T Reid – The trial of former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger is underway and there seems to be some confusion on whether or not the Grand Jury that indicted her, possibly overcharged her which some fear could result in a not guilty verdict by the jury.
In 2018, Amber Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean in his apartment which was located a floor above her own apartment which was located on the 3rd floor. The five-year veteran officer claims she mistakenly entered the apartment through a door that wasn’t locked encountering Mr. Jean whom she assumed was a burglar, drew her weapon and shot and killed him.
Guyger was originally charged with manslaughter but once the case went before a Dallas grand jury, that jury escalated the charge to murder.
In the state of Texas, according to The Zendeh Del Law Firm, there are four types of criminal homicide and they are as follows:
1. Murder: You commit murder when you intentionally and knowingly take someone else’s life, or when you intend to commit an act that is clearly extremely dangerous to human life and in effect, causes death to another person. Murder is usually a felony of the first degree.
2. Capital Murder: There are different ways to commit capital murder. You commit capital murder if you kill a fireman or member of law enforcement. You commit capital murder if you intentionally kill someone while committing arson, kidnapping, robbery or burglary, terroristic threat, obstruction or retaliation, or sexual assault. Capital murder is a capital felony.
3. Manslaughter: You commit manslaughter if you “recklessly” cause the death of another person. Manslaughter is a felony of the second degree.
4. Criminally Negligent Homicide: If you are criminally negligent and you take someone else’s life, it would be considered criminally negligent homicide, which is a state jail felony. Some “accidental killings” fall into this category.
Some pundits believe that the officer was overcharged which could lead to a jury returning a not guilty verdict. On an episode of Roland Martin Unfiltered, this question was brought up and Roland Martin expressed concern that Guyger will be set free as was the case when off duty Chicago police detective Dante Servin, shot and killed Rekia Boyd in 2012.
However, Servin was never charged with murder in the Boyd case, he was charged with manslaughter and perhaps should have been charged with murder based on witness statements and the fact he had an unregistered handgun. Nonetheless, according to the New York Times,
“Judge Dennis J. Porter of Cook County Circuit Court, in a directed verdict, ruled that the state had failed to prove recklessness on the part of the officer, Dante Servin, 46, in the March 2012 shooting death of Rekia Boyd, 22. Judge Porter also cleared Mr. Servin of reckless discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct.”
The facts and circumstances of the Servin trial and the Guyger trial are entirely different as well as in addition to having occurred in two different states.
From what I’ve been able to ascertain from a couple of sources if the Dallas jury in the Guyger case doesn’t believe her actions rise to the level of murder, have the option to find her guilty of lesser charges.
Guyger, 31, is facing life in prison should a jury find her guilty of murder. If she is found not guilty of murder, she could still face lesser charges of manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, according to The Dallas Morning News. (That she pulled the trigger and killed Jean is not in dispute.) – Time
The jury in the murder trial that began Monday will decide whether Guyger committed murder, a lesser offense such as manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, or no crime at all. – USA Today
Today is Day 4 of the Guyger’s murder trial which is expected to last up to two weeks.