The jury heard closing arguments from the prosecution and defense on day seven of former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger’s trial.
In the prosecution’s closing statement, prosecutor Jason Fine said most of the trial has been about Guyger. He said 26-year-old Botham Jean was relaxing after a long day with his ice cream, cellphone and laptop on the ottoman in front of him.
Fine said Jean was sitting when Guyger — an intruder — entered the room, Fine said. Jean acted reasonably and started to stand from the couch when he was fatally shot by Guyger on Sept. 6, 2018.
This case had nothing to do with politics and a guilty verdict isn’t commentary on police officers overall, Fine said. It had to do with Guyger’s unreasonable actions that led to Jean’s death.
“A guilty verdict in this case does not mean you hate police,” Fine said.
Guyger had chances to notice that she was at the wrong door, starting with the apartment number and the bright red mat, Fine said. She ignored the smell of marijuana in the apartment, which was strong because Texas Ranger David Armstrong said he smelled it two days after the incident.
He said Guyger had told the jury two different stories when she took the stand on Friday.
First she said Jean was at the back of the room but during cross examination, she said he was by the couch.
“She is not a reasonable person,” he said. “She was not thinking like a reasonable person that day.”
Prosecutor Jason Hermus said Guyger was in a position of safety, behind a steel door and decided to go into the room. She could’ve called for help, Hermus said.
When she ignored all of the defensive options, she became the aggressor, Hermus said. Guyger chose to use her gun out of all the other tools on her belt.
Hermus said Guyger’s police training should have told her to retreat and call for back-up. Her training showed in other decisions she had made that day, but it didn’t on Jean’s doorstep.
None of Jean’s neighbors heard Guyger cry for Jean to show his hands to her, Hermus said. Joshua Brown, a neighbor who lived close to Jean, heard Jean call out “Hey, hey, hey,” before he heard two shots.
“She shot him dead in the heart,” Hermus said. “That’s not a mistake shot.”
Defense attorney Toby Shook said Guyger had acted in self-defense because she believed deadly force was immediately necessary. A person is protected in using deadly force if they expected a threat, even if that person was wrong in assuming that.
“The law recognizes that mistakes can be made,” he said. “It’s always tragic.”
The state prosecution had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not acting in self-defense, Shook said. They did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was not a mistake of fact involved in the incident.
Guyger was not on a call when she came home, he said. She had seconds to make the decision because the door opened in a fluid motion.
“She has to make that split-second decision,” he said. “And this time it ended in tragedy.”
He pointed out that the state’s own witnesses had admitted to walking to the wrong floor. The Texas Rangers found that 44% of residents on the third and fourth floor had gone to the wrong apartment on the wrong floor before.
It was difficult to tell the difference between the floor markers and apartment numbers, Shook said. A number of witnesses called to the stand spoke about the confusing design of the apartment complex.
Defense attorney Robert Rogers said Guyger didn’t notice the red doormat outside Jean’s door. And as the door opened in one motion, Guyger had developed tunnel vision because of a perceived threat.
She was focused on who she perceived to be the intruder in her own apartment, Rogers said. She didn’t notice the differences between Jean’s apartment and her own.
“She’s an ordinary and prudent person, who made a mistake,” Rogers said.
Shook told the jury not to let emotions decide the case or let sympathy for Jean and his family affect their final decision.
“If we have jurors who are deciding things on emotion then bad things can happen,” he said.
Shook said a human being died, but the evidence showed it was a tragic mistake.
“It’s one of those cases where there are no winners,” he said.
The jury went home without reaching a decision. It will continue deliberation Tuesday.