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Dallas County DA: ‘We Are Not Through’

Faith Johnson says the district attorney's office is investigating the shooting death of Botham Jean and plans to present its case to a grand jury.
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The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office is conducting its own investigation into the shooting death of Botham Jean and plans to present its findings to a grand jury.

Officer Amber Guyger shot and killed Jean on Thursday night after, she said, she mistook his apartment for her own. The Dallas Police Department ceded the investigation to the Texas Rangers, and it took three days for her to be charged with manslaughter. She turned herself in to the Kaufman County Jail on Sunday night and bonded out an hour later.

Speaking Monday morning alongside the mayor and the Jean family, District Attorney Faith Johnson said her office had launched its own investigation into the shooting. She said she and her investigators met with the Texas Rangers for “almost two hours” on Sunday afternoon before Guyger had been charged. She said her people had a “spirited debate” with the Rangers, but that “they made it very clear to us that they were going to issue a warrant for manslaughter.”

Much public criticism has been aimed at the Rangers and the Dallas Police Department for allowing Guyger to remain free for three days after the shooting. Johnson didn’t take the bait when asked her thoughts on that decision, saying only that the Texas Rangers had led the investigation and that the decisions made were theirs alone. She said her investigators had been meeting with witnesses and reviewing evidence; they had not interviewed Guyger, but the Texas Rangers made their chat with her available to the district attorney’s office. Johnson also declined to discuss the details of the case, saying that she feared it would jeopardize her ability to find an impartial jury. Attorney Lee Merritt, who represents the Jean family, said Monday that he had provided new video and other evidence to the district attorney.

“We’re gonna unravel whatever we need to unravel and we’re gonna un-turn whatever we need to un-turn and we’re gonna present a full case to the grand jury of Dallas County,” she said. “We will not ever compromise our investigation” by speaking about the facts of the incident.

Both Johnson and Mayor Mike Rawlings praised police Chief U. Reneé Hall’s decision to hand the investigation over to a third party. The Texas Rangers are also continuing to investigate. On Saturday, State Sen. Royce West said Jean’s door at the South Side Flats apartments in the Cedars was open when Guyger stuck her electronic key fob in. The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday night that the officer saw a figure in the darkness of the doorway and fired twice, hitting him once. Jean was pronounced dead later that night at Baylor University Medical Center.

“Botham was a model citizen and when you lose someone like that in this way, we mourn and our heart breaks with that family,” Rawlings said.

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