Fired Dallas police officer Amber Guyger broke down on the witness stand Friday, testifying in her own defense in the murder trial for the fatal shooting of Botham Jean where she for the first time gave her account of what happened inside his apartment.
"Why did you shoot Amber," Defense Attorney Toby Shook asked Guyger. "I was scared he was going to kill me," Guyger said.
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Guyger began crying and shaking on the witness stand Friday after describing the moments before entering Jean's apartment that night. The emotions became particularly charged when Guyger was asked to stand up in front of the jury during a demonstration to show how she was carrying her equipment as she walked down the hallway, toward what she believed was her apartment.
After a short break to allow Guyger to compose herself, testimony resumed and would continue for three hours.
Guyger was able to re-enact that night for the jury, saying when she got to the apartment and opened the door she saw a figure by the back wall of the apartment.
She said she ordered the person to "Let me see your hands! Let me see you hands!" She said the man came toward her saying, "Hey! Hey!" and that she then shot him, scared for her life.
"I was scared, I was scared this person inside my apartment was going to kill me, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," she said crying.
Guyger testified Botham Jean's door opened when she inserted her key, telling jurors she could hear shuffling inside.
"I used my left arm to fully open the door and at that time that's when I'm drawing my service weapon out," Guyger said. "All at the same time," Shook asked. "Yes sir," Guyger said.
Guyger fired twice, a technique called a "double-tap" where a person fires two shots in rapid succession at the same height and toward the same area of a target.
She told the jury she realized she'd made a mistake when she got closer to Jean. At multiple points, when asked about killing Jean, Guyger broke down.
"I hate that I have to live with this every single day of my life and I ask God for forgiveness," Guyger said.
During cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Jason Hermus was relentless, going after both Guyger's story and her decision to render limited aid to Jean.
"I feel like a horrible person, I feel like a piece of crap. I hate that I have to live with this every single day. I feel like I don't deserve a family. I hate myself," Guyger said. "I wish he was the one that grabbed the gun and killed me. I never wanted to take an innocent person's life. And I am so sorry. This is not about hate. This is about being scared."
"Why couldn't you have given him full undivided and proper attention," Hermus asked. "You can put the phone on speaker phone," he continued. "I had so much racing through my head," Guyger said.
Citing multiple neighbors of Jean called to testify who said they never heard Gugyer say "let me see your hands" Hermus questioned Guyger's account that she did.
"Not one of them heard you say that," Hermus said. "I can't tell you why," Guyger responded. "It's because you didn't say it," Hermus said. Guyger replied, "That's not true, sir."
Following Guyger's testimony the court recessed for lunch, afterward testimony resumed with the defense calling several other witnesses, including three former residents of the apartment building who all had issues either parking on the wrong floor, entering the wrong hallway or even entering the wrong apartment.
One former resident, Marc Lipscomb, testifed he was walking his dog and often left his apartment unlocked while he did so. When he returned, he said he walked into an apartment he thought was his and, when he spotted a purse on the counter, thought his roommate must have a guest. It wasn't until he was farther into the apartment, in the living room, when he startled a woman sitting on the couch who actually lived inside the residence.
Another resident, Jessica Martinez, said a man actually walked into her apartment holding a key fob used to unlock the building's electronic locks. She said she panicked and the man quickly left her residence. She said she then saw him use his key to enter another residence nearby.
Dallas Police Officer Keean Blair, who was one of the first officers to respond to the shooting, testified Friday that he and partner Michael Lee provided CPR to Jean and ordered Guyger out of the apartment. He said she was emotional, crying and hysterical and that he wanted her out of the scene so they could focus all of their attention on providing medical aid to the victim.
Under cross-examination, prosecutors asked Blair what would he do if he arrived home and found an intruder -- whether he would confront the person or, do what other officers have suggested in testimony that they're trained to do, fall back on training and wait for backup. Blair said it's a dynamic situation and that if he'd already engaged with the intruder he didn't imagine he would be able to retreat and wait for backup. He said if he had not yet entered the residence or engaged the intruder, he expected he would wait for backup.
Attorney and former Dallas County prosecutor Erin Hendricks, who is not connected to the case, said the jury's perception of Guyger is critical.
"Do they believe her? Do they like her? What if they don't like her, but they believe her?" Hendricks said.
There is no question that Guyger entered Jean's apartment, mistaking it for her own, and shot and killed him; an innocent man. The question remains, did Guyger perceive Jean as a threat when was thought she was in her apartment?
The prosecution has tried to paint the picture that the response of deadly force by Guyger was unreasonable and there were obvious indicators that she was at the wrong apartment on the wrong floor.
The defense will now work equally as hard to prove that Guyger was acting to protect herself and that walking into Jean's apartment was an honest mistake that could have been made by anyone -- and that similiar mistakes have been made by other residents of the building.
"Their perception of her in that moment — might be even more important than what they're perception of her is in the courtroom at council table," Hendricks said.