The 911 call former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger made after fatally shooting neighbor Botham Shem Jean in his own apartment in September shows the panic the 30-year-old Guyger felt in the immediate aftermath of her lethal mistake.
Guyger had just finished a 14-hour shift and was still in uniform when she arrived at the South Side Flats, where she lived on the third floor in an apartment directly under Jean, a 26-year-old accountant. Jean, a native of Saint Lucia, was black; Guyger is white.
The shooting prompted racially-charged protests in the city. WFAA in Dallas reported that thousands of people mourned Jean in the U.S., as well as in his native eastern Caribbean country.
“To know Botham was to love Botham,” Singing Hills Church of Christ pastor Michael Griffin said at the Dallas memorial, according to the news station. “He was the light in a dark room.”
Guyger, a four-year veteran of the force, was charged with manslaughter about 72 hours after she killed Jean, WFAA reported. She lost her job Sept. 24 and a grand jury in November upgraded the manslaughter charge to one of murder.
Her trial date is tentatively set for August, but that could change, the news station reported.
The 911 call, long withheld by authorities but obtained by WFAA, sheds some light on what happened after Guyger fired two shots at Jean. The victim’s mother, Allison Jean, told the Dallas Morning News Tuesday that, after hearing the audio for the first time, her belief that her son was murdered was not swayed, but reinforced.
“The call made me strengthen my view that Amber Guyger is a cold-blooded killer because she was more concerned about losing her job than my son, the value of my son,” Allison Jean said. “She does not sound like she was trying to help him at all.”
According to the Associated Press, Dallas police officials had repeatedly declined to release the audio, citing the ongoing criminal investigation into Guyger’s actions. The release to WFAA was unauthorized.
Police officials have begun an internal investigation into how the news station obtained the leaked recording, the AP reported Tuesday.
The first sounds that are heard as the police dispatcher answers the Sept. 6 call for help are of Guyer’s voice.
“Get up, man,” she is heard telling Botham Jean.
“Dallas 911. This is Carla. What is your emergency?” the dispatcher asks.
“Hi, this is an off-duty officer,” Guyger responds. “Can I get EMS. I’m in number, um ….”
“Do you need police as well, or just EMS?” the dispatcher asks.
“Yes. I need both,” Guyger says. “(Expletive).”
Guyger appears to have difficulty with the number of the apartment she is in. Eventually, she tells the dispatcher she is in apartment 1478 in the South Side Flats, the apartment building where both she and Jean lived.
The dispatcher again asks about her emergency.
“I’m an off-duty officer. I thought I was in my apartment, and I shot a guy thinking that he was, thinking it was my apartment,” Guyger says.
“You shot someone?” the dispatcher asks.
“Yes, I thought it was my apartment,” Guyger says again.
“I’m (expletive),” she says breathlessly. “Oh my God. I’m sorry.”
The dispatcher asks where Guyger is now, and she tells her she is in the apartment with the mortally wounded man.
“Hey, come on, man,” Guyger can be heard telling Jean.
The dispatcher reassures Guyger that help is on the way.
“I know, but I’m …” she says, sounding near tears. “I’m gonna lost my job.”
She repeats that she thought it was her apartment and, after speaking again to Jean, utters another expletive. Throughout the call, Guyger tells the dispatcher 19 times that she believed she had entered her own apartment.
Listen to Guyger’s entire 911 call below, courtesy of WFAA in Dallas. Warning: The audio contains explicit language.
After a few moments of silence, the dispatcher tells Guyger to stay with her.
“I am. I am,” she responds. “I know I need a supervisor.”
“Hey bud. Hey bud. Come on,” Guyger can be heard telling Jean. “Oh (expletive).”
After a few seconds of silence, Guyger again tells the dispatcher she thought it was her apartment she had entered. She appears to be crying as she speaks.
“Hurry, please,” she tells the dispatcher.
“They are on their way,” the dispatcher says.
“I thought it was my apartment,” Guyger continues. “I could have sworn I parked on the third floor.”
“OK, I understand,” the dispatcher says, trying to keep her calm.
She continues to repeat, over and over, that she thought she entered her own apartment.
By that point, officers had arrived at the apartment building. The dispatcher asks for the gate code, which Guyger says she does not know.
The dispatcher asks what floor Guyger is on.
“On the fourth floor,” she says.
After a period of silence, Guyger is heard talking to Jean again.
“Hey bud, hey bud, they’re coming,” she says. “They’re coming.”
She apologizes to him.
“I’m sorry, man.”
Jean, who has been silent through the entire 911 call, appears to moan at that point in the call.
When the dispatcher asks where he’s been shot, Guyger tells her he’s “on the top left.”
Jean moans again.
Several more seconds of silence go by before a tearful Guyger speaks again.
“Oh my God. I’m done,” she says. “I didn’t mean to. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t mean to. I’m so sorry.”
She talks some more to Jean.
“Stay with me, bud,” she says.
As Guyger continues to curse under her breath and say she thought it was her apartment, the dispatcher tells her officers are at the scene and trying to get to her.
“Do you hear them? Do you see them?” the dispatcher asks.
“No! No,” Guyger says.
After some more rapid breathing, Guyger appears to speak to herself.
“How the (expletive) did I put the … how did I …,” she says. “I’m so tired.”
A few seconds later, Guyger can be heard calling to the arriving officers and explaining that she was the shooter.
“I thought they were in my apartment. I thought this was my floor,” she says before the line goes dead.
WFAA reported that Guyger later told investigators she found Jean’s door slightly ajar and that it opened when she inserted her key fob into the lock. In her arrest warrant, it states she told detectives she saw a “large silhouette” in the dark apartment and began giving commands, which she said Jean “ignored,” the news station said.
According to a search warrant, however, a neighbor told investigators he heard an exchange of words, followed by at least two gunshots, WFAA reported. Jean was struck once in the abdomen.
He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Attorney Daryl Washington, who is representing Jean’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit, told WFAA he noted that Guyger never told the dispatcher she feared for her life when she found Jean in the apartment.
“There was nothing in that video or the recording where she ever indicated she thought Botham was trying to harm her,” Washington said. “She was very fast to shoot without asking very many questions.”
He said he believes race was a factor in the shooting.
“I always hesitate to say things are racial, but I think what happened is she saw an African-American male and she responded and she shot him,” Washington said.