(Reuters) – A Texas grand jury could potentially charge a Dallas police officer with murder in the shooting death of a neighbor whose apartment the officer said she mistook for her own, a prosecutor said on Monday, as the victim’s family demanded more answers.
Meanwhile, according to the Dallas Morning News, dozens of people marched through the city’s downtown on Monday evening, blocking traffic at times, to protest last Thursday’s fatal shooting of Botham Shem Jean, 26, an unarmed black man, by the white officer.
Amber Guyger, 30, a four-year veteran of the Dallas police force, was arrested on Sunday and charged with manslaughter, a lesser offense than murder for an unlawful killing that does not involve malice aforethought.
Police said Guyger has told investigators she mistook Jean’s residence for her own and shot him believing he was an intruder.
Questions have been raised over why there was a delay in charging Guyger and how she failed to know she was not in her own apartment.
An attorney for Guyger, who was released on $300,000 bond, could not be reached for comment.
District Attorney Faith Johnson told reporters on Monday, “We plan to present a thorough case to the grand jury of Dallas County so that the right decision can be made in this case.”
The grand jury may decide to uphold the manslaughter charge on which she was arrested, or it could consider charging Guyger with murder, Johnson said.
Guyger, who came home from her shift on Thursday in uniform, mistakenly went to Jean’s apartment one floor above her own and managed to enter because the door was slightly ajar, according to an arrest warrant affidavit posted online by local media.
Entering the darkened apartment, she noticed a figure whom she said she mistook for a burglar and fired twice, striking Jean once in the chest, the affidavit said.
Attorneys for Jean’s family challenged that account.
“This wasn’t her apartment, so there wouldn’t be the same smell, there wouldn’t be the same furniture, there wouldn’t be the same lighting pattern,” S. Lee Merritt, an attorney for Jean’s family, said at a news conference on Monday.
Two witnesses who live at the apartment building have described hearing knocks at a door before the shooting, and one of the witnesses heard a woman’s voice saying, “Let me in,” Merritt said.
The results of a blood test on Guyger for drugs and alcohol were still pending, a police spokesman said.
Reporting by Gabriella Borter, Alex Dobuzinskis, Peter Szekely, Rich McKay and Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Grant McCool