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Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger, who fatally shot 26-year-old Botham Jean in his Cedars apartment, was fired just days after Police Chief U. Renee Hall said doing so would compromise the criminal investigation.  A news release stated that Hall fired Guyger after an internal investigation found the officer had engaged in “adverse conduct” when she was charged with manslaughter three days after the shooting.

Guyger shot Jean, her upstairs neighbor, the night of Sept. 6. Jean, an accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, lived on the fourth floor in apartment 1478 of the South Side Flats. Guyger, an officer for four years, was his immediate downstairs neighbor.  After entering his apartment that she mistook for her own.  She entered the dark apartment after a long shift and believed Jean, who was unarmed, was a burglar.

After she shot him, Guyger called 911 in tears, “I thought it was my apartment,” she said repeatedly and apologized to Jean, “I’m so sorry.”  Police arrived within four minutes of her call, and paramedics rushed Jean to Baylor University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.  Guyger was charged with manslaughter three days after the shooting and has been on administrative leave since the shooting.  She’s currently free on a $300,000 bond while she awaits trial.

There was widespread calls for action and protests demanding that Guyger be terminated.  Chief Hall said that she couldn’t fire Guyger before an internal investigation was completed because of federal, state and local laws but she didn’t specify to which laws she was referring.   Hall released a statement saying she didn’t want to risk interfering with a criminal investigation by making a decision about Guyger’s employment.

The Dallas Police Department turned over the investigation to the Texas Rangers shortly after the shooting. The Dallas County District Attorney’s office is also conducting its own investigation.  Those investigations aren’t complete, but Hall said police were notified that a “critical portion” of the criminal investigation — the part that could have been compromised by an internal investigation — had been concluded over the weekend.

Guyger’s firing was supported by Mayor Mike Rawlings, who called it “the right decision in the interest of justice”.  A statement from the mayor read “I have heard the calls for this action from many, including the Jean family, and I agree that this is the right decision in the interest of justice for Botham Jean and the citizens of Dallas.  The swift termination of any officer who engages in misconduct that leads to the loss of innocent life is essential if the Dallas Police Department is to gain and maintain the public trust.”

Guyger’s attorney Robert Rogers said in a written statement that Hall “bowed to pressure from anti-police groups and took action before all of the facts had been gathered and due process was afforded.”  Rogers said his client is “completely devastated by what happened.” The shooting, he said, was “a tragic mistake and words can never express our sorrow for the pain being suffered by those who knew and loved Botham Jean.”

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