Ex-Dallas Cop Amber Guyger Indicted for Murder in Botham Jean Shooting
A grand jury began hearing evidence in the case on Monday.
Amber Guyger, a former Dallas police officer, has been indicted by a Dallas County grand jury on a murder charge in the killing of Botham Jean.
Guyger fatally shot Jean, a 26-year-old Black man, her neighbor, after entering his apartment in September. She turned herself in and was arrested on Sept. 9 — three days after the shooting took place — and was charged with manslaughter. Guyger then was released on a $300,000 bond in roughly an hour.
The grand jury began hearing evidence in the case on Monday. They were tasked to decide what charge Guyger would face or even if she would be indicted.
Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said, in a press conference, on Friday, her office considered this a murder case "all along," and "once the grand jury heard this case, they did return an indictment for murder."
Johnson added that it was the Texas Rangers who made the initial decision to file it as a manslaughter charge.
On the day of the shooting, Dallas police said Guyger said she mistook Jean's apartment as hers at around 10 p.m. when returning home from work. Court documents have varied on the story of how she got Jean's door open.
Her arrest warrant says that Guyger reports drawing her gun when she saw a figure in the dark apartment, giving verbal commands, which were ignored, and then firing two shots. But witnesses said that they heard sounds and talking, which contradict that report.
"They heard knocking down the hallway followed by a woman's voice that they believe to be officer Guyger saying, 'Let me in. Let me in,'" attorney Lee Merritt said.
Only after public backlash and protests, the police department in late September fired Guyger. In October, the Jean family filed a federal lawsuit.
When Jean's father was asked at the press conference how his family felt about the indictment, he only smiled and shook his head up and down, according to the Star-Telegram's Nichole Manna.
It could take more than a year before Guyger goes in front of a jury.
Reader Question: Do you agree with the Dallas County grand jury's decision?
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During Miami Art Week, one of the city's busiest times of the year, a Black-owned art gallery in Little Haiti was vandalized with a spray-painted swastika and profanity.
Karla Ferguson, owner of Yeelen Gallery, realized on Saturday morning there was a hate symbol defacing the outside of the building.
"An officer was actually parked outside the building and I went up to his squad car and told him that he had to take a look," Ferguson told DiversityInc. "He was visibly concerned and sympathetic to what it represented.
"I was told by the officer that this was likely going to be seen as a hate crime as the words 'destroy,' 'f**k' and the swastika were visible."
Ferguson, who is also an attorney, is well known in the area for creating a space to celebrate artists of color that the traditional art world usually doesn't include. She said she has "taken the business to the next level," now known as the Yeelen Group.
"Yeelen promotes diversity we tell the stories of marginalized groups, we stand for women's empowerment, we tell the stories from an African Diaspora perspective, LGBTQ rights and civil rights in general are represented when it comes to our exhibition programming," explained Ferguson.
"For the hateful that don't feel that we all deserve to be treated with respect, that don't feel civil rights are to be upheld we could be seen as a threat. We are about valuing marginalized people and showing the worth and humanity of their contributions to society."
Karla Ferguson, CEO, Yeelen Group
This is the first time a symbol of hate and threats have been directed toward her business. As Miami Art Week brings people all over the country into the area, it could have been locals or an outside influence.
Ferguson, whose business headquarters has been in Little Haiti since 2013, chose the neighborhood that is an area of Caribbean immigrants and locally owned shops, before gentrification started to occur.
Her activism through art and consulting is "aimed at providing exhibition and economic opportunities for all artists and particularly those that ask the tough questions, those that challenge our thinking and question inequities."
As a Black woman and an activist, Ferguson said being confronted with hate during a time when it's on the rise across the country only "reinforces that what I do is important, that I am on the right path."
Last month, in Los Angeles, four swastikas were found painted across the face of a Crenshaw mural depicting Black women.
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"They were upset; it makes them feel unsafe," she said. "I had to explain to my youngest what a swastika is and what it stands for. I reminded her that there are people who believe that one type of person is superior to others and that such thinking is wrong and ignorant. I told them that their ancestors survived far worse to make their lives possible and that we will continue to fight oppression and hold our heads up high while we do it.
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