‘I thought he was going to kill me': Amber Guyger testifies about night she killed Botham Jean – The Dallas Morning News
Updated at 12:25 p.m. with more details from testimony.
Amber Guyger took the stand to start the fifth day of her murder trial Friday morning — the first witness the defense called after prosecutors rested their case against the fired Dallas police officer Thursday afternoon.
Guyger, 31, fatally shot 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean in his apartment near downtown Dallas on Sept. 6, 2018. Her defense called the shooting a “tragic, but innocent” mistake and has argued she was reasonable in believing Jean was a burglar when she entered his apartment, a floor above hers.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the shooting, Guyger talked about her childhood growing up in Arlington, her affair with her married police partner, her training as an officer and, most importantly, the night she says she confused Jean’s apartment for her own.
About an hour into her testimony, the fired officer began to break down in tears as her attorney asked her to demonstrate how she entered Jean’s apartment that night. Lead prosecutor Jason Hermus asked for a break when she started to sob.
“No, keep going,” Guyger said while crying, before Judge Tammy Kemp dismissed the jury for a brief break.
When testimony resumed about a half-hour later, defense attorney Toby Shook asked Guyger to walk the jury through what happened that night last September.
She said she was scared when she heard “shuffling” inside what she believe to be her apartment. When she opened the door, she saw a silhouette of a person in the dark, she said.
“I knew someone was moving around inside my apartment so I wanted just to find that threat,” Guyger said.
She pulled her gun and shouted at Jean, she testified.
“Let me see your hands! Let me see your hands!” she yelled, according to her testimony.
She said Jean began walking toward her quickly and yelled, “Hey, hey, hey!” in an aggressive tone before she fired twice. Shook asked her what was going through her head when she fired.
“I was scared he was going to kill me,” she said.
After the two shots, she walked into the apartment and realized she wasn’t in her home, noticing Jean’s round ottoman in his living room.
“It started hitting me that this guy, I have no idea who he is, and that’s when everything just started to spin,” she testified.
She said she dialed 911 while kneeling next to Jean, and had to get up to go into the hallway when the dispatcher asked what apartment she was in.
She said using her left hand, she started to do chest compressions on Jean. Prosecution had suggested she did not provide first aid, noting that her uniform had no blood on it and gloves with her that night were clean and unused.
“The state he was in, I knew it wasn’t good,” Guyger testified.
Guyger sat with her head bowed, eyes down as the recording of her 911 call played over speakers in the courtroom.
Shook asked what was going through her head after the shooting, “That I shot an innocent man. He didn’t deserve — I didn’t — I thought I was in my apartment,” she said.
Guyger had sent texts to her police partner, Martin Rivera, while still on the phone with 911. She said she was scared and had no help to perform CPR on Jean.
“I was by myself with someone I had just shot,” she said. “I was alone with him, and that’s the scariest thing you could ever imagine, and I just wanted help.”
Shook asked again why she fired her weapon.
“I was scared whoever was inside of my apartment was going to kill me, and I’m sorry,” Guyger said through tears, her voice shaking. “I have to live with that every single day.”
Shook asked how she feels about killing Jean.
“I feel like a terrible person. I feel like crap. I hate that I have to live with this every day of my life. I ask God for forgiveness and I hate myself every day,” she said, her voice shaking as she cried.
Guyger said she wishes Jean and her roles had been reversed and he had shot her when she entered his apartment.
“I wish he was the one with the gun and killed me. I never wanted to take an innocent person’s life, and I am so sorry. This is not about hate; it’s about being scared,” she said, seeming to look directly at the Jean family as she spoke.
The Jeans remained stoic.
Later, as Guyger testified, Jean’s father , Bertrum wiped his eyes from time to time with a white handkerchief.
Allison Jean sat for most of the testimony with her left hand cupping her chin, her pointer finger over her lips. She would periodically shake her head gently as Guyger spoke.
Hermus, the prosecutor, began cross-examining Guyger, focusing on the part of her testimony when she said being alone with Jean after she shot him was the “scariest thing” she could imagine.
“That’s the scariest thing you can imagine, right?” Hermus asked.
“Yes, sir,” Guyger said.
“Can you imagine Mr. Jean’s perspective? An intruder barging into his apartment — somebody on the other side of that door being you going in with the purpose of finding the threat and taking care of it,” Hermus said. “And then having been shot and fallen and being alone in that apartment — can’t you imagine that being a little bit scarier than you just being alone at the moment?”
“Yes, sir,” she said.
Hermus noted that Guyger shot Jean directly in the chest, right where she was trained as a police officer to shoot.
“When you aimed and pulled the trigger at Mr. Jean, shooting him in center mass right where you are trained, you intended to kill Mr. Jean?” he asked.
“I did,” she said.
Hermus suggested she had other options, like calling for backup, and also noted that none of the neighbors who took the stand during the trial heard the loud commands she said she made.
“I can’t tell you why,” Guyger said.
“It’s because you didn’t say it,” Hermus retorted.
“That’s not true,” she said.
Hermus later noted that there was “combat gauze” in her backpack, used to temporarily control traumatic bleeding. It was unused.
Hermus asked if Mr. Jean was “bleeding horribly” after the gunshot wound, and Guyger said she did not recall much blood.
She said it didn’t cross her mind to use the gauze or a first-aid kit also in her backpack that night.
Hermus asked if Guyger did anything besides periodic chest compressions to help Jean after she shot him.
She said she performed a “sternum rub,” something she thought would help keep him alive that she testified she had seem paramedics do before.
Hermus’s cross-examination of Guyger will resume after a lunch break.
The state rested its case Thursday after prosecutors called up Texas Rangers, forensics experts and residents of the South Side Flats apartment where Jean and Guyger lived.
They questioned witnesses about differences between the third and fourth floors of the apartments, trying to make the case that Guyger missed many visual cues that she was on the wrong floor before she killed Jean.
Another of Guyger’s attorneys, Robert Rogers, said during opening statements that jurors would hear from Guyger, and the defense wasted no time calling what could be their most important witness.
On Thursday, Hermus contrasted Guyger’s uniform and gloves from the night of the shooting — clean and free of any blood — with video of the “heroic” efforts of Guyger’s fellow officers who responded to the scene to try to save Jean’s life, frantically performing CPR as he lay bleeding on his apartment floor.
Earlier in the trial, jurors heard from Guyger’s former police partner, with whom she had a sexual relationship, as prosecutors showed the sexually explicit texts the two swapped leading up to the shooting.
At one point when the jury had been sent out of the courtroom, Texas Ranger David Armstrong — who led the investigation into the shooting — said he did not believe Guyger had committed a crime when she shot Jean.
Armstrong said he believed she acted reasonably in fear for her life, believing Jean was a burglar. He was the law enforcement officer who got a manslaughter arrest warrant for Guyger before she was later indicted on the murder charge she is being tried on.