The Sept. 6, 2018, killing of Botham Jean, a 26-year-old black PwC accountant, by a white officer sparked street protests, particularly when prosecutors initially opted to bring the lesser charge of manslaughter against Guyger, 31.
“We the jury unanimously find the defendant Amber Guyger guilty of murder as charged in the indictment,” Judge Tammy Kemp read aloud to the courtroom from the jurors’ statement. A sob cut the judge off and Kemp paused to address the courtroom: “No outbursts.”
Guyger, 31, could face life in prison for the slaying.
It is relatively rare for U.S. police officers to be convicted of murder for shooting people they view as suspects. But unlike other recent high-profile killings, such as those of Michael Brown in Missouri and Philando Castile in Minnesota, Guyger was not on duty or responding to a reported crime when she pulled the trigger.
“This is a huge victory, not only for the family of Botham Jean, but as his mother Allison told me a moment ago, this is a victory for black people in America. It’s a signal that the tide is going to change here. Police officers are going to get held accountable for their actions, and we believe that will begin to change policing culture all over the world,” said civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing the Jean family.
Guyger, who had spent four years on the force before the killing, took the rare step of testifying in her own defense during her trial, tearfully expressing regret for shooting Jean but saying she had believed her life was in danger when she pulled the trigger.
(Production: Nathan Frandino)