DALLAS (AP) — A Texas grand jury will not indict the president of a police association accused of tampering with evidence in the case of a white Dallas police officer who fatally shot her unarmed Black neighbor in his apartment two years ago.
Former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger is serving a 10-year sentence for the murder of Botham Jean in his apartment in September 2018.
Guyger, 31, said she returned from work after a long shift and mistook Jean’s apartment for her own, which was directly below his. Finding the door ajar, she entered and shot him, thinking the 26-year-old was a burglar.
Guyger called 911 to report the shooting, was taken into custody and placed in a squad car. Dashcam footage shows Dallas Police Association President Michael Mata walk to the car and tell Guyger not to talk to anyone. Mata also asks a sergeant to turn off the car’s camera.
On Tuesday, a Dallas County grand jury declined to indict Mata over the alleged evidence tampering, his attorney told TV station WFAA.
“Their decision not to indict just confirms what we have known since September of 2018 — Mike Mata did nothing wrong,” attorney Robert Rogers said in a statement.
Rogers added that “protecting the constitutional rights of police officers” is part of Mata’s job and that the association president’s actions were “consistent with” Dallas Police Department policy.
Jean's family attorney, Darryl Washington, told WFAA Tuesday that Allison Jean, Botham’s mother, was “shocked and frustrated” by the grand jury's decision. Mata engaged in preferential treatment with Guyger by stopping the car's camera recording, Washington said.
“There’s great public trust that has been violated. The public wants to know that police officers aren’t protecting police officers,” Washington said.
Washington went as far as to argue that if the in-car recording was entered into evidence, Guyger could've faced a longer sentence.
“The public and jury got to see a sympathetic Amber Guyger. Not someone we believe was prepped and coached to make certain statements,” Washington said.
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