A photo from Botham Shem Jean’s Instagram page shows Jean standing with several young women. The photo went viral in the hours before Officer Amber Guyger was identified as the Dallas cop who shot and killed Jean, causing rampant – and false – speculation that Guyger and Jean knew each other before the shooting.
However, the Internet sleuths botched this one. The photo does not show Amber Guyger. The Dallas Morning News was among those news outlets that debunked the photo, reporting that PriceWaterhouseCoopers confirmed that the women in it with Jean are his co-worker and friends and are not involved in law enforcement. None of them is Amber Guyger. The woman on the left, widely pinpointed as possibly being Guyger by amateur social media sleuths, is actually a co-worker of Jean’s from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, according to The Morning News.
Guyger was arrested by the Texas Rangers in Kaufman County, Texas on the evening of September 9, 2018, and is being accused of manslaughter, jail records show.
Kaufman County Jail online records show that Guyger is in custody there. Her mugshot is also available on the public site. She is being held on $300,000 bail.
The viral photo shows the perils of Internet sleuthing culture, where the rush to publish unverified, speculative information can lead to a phenomenon through which others assume it’s true because they saw it on social media so many times. The Internet got some things right too; other photos circulated of Guyger are in fact her, and many people on social media shared Guyger’s name as the officer who shot Jean well before traditional media and the police did. However, in the case of the viral photo, many people on social media were just completely wrong.
This is the photo in question. Heavy has blurred out the women’s faces/identities because they have nothing to do with the shooting situation.
Furthermore, the photo was used on social media to prop up a narrative that even Botham Shem Jean’s own family attorney says does not appear to be true: Whether Jean knew Amber Guyger before the shooting. Police sources who spoke to local media outlets and the family attorney all say the evidence shows that Jean and Guyger did not know each other before the fatal shooting.
The circumstances were bizarre; Dallas police have said previously that Guyger appears to have gone to Jean’s apartment after mistakenly believing it was her own. The shooting then ensued, although police have not provided the details of how it exactly unfolded. The Texas Rangers are still investigating, and Amber Guyger has not been arrested.
Here’s what you need to know:
It’s Believed That Guyger & Jean Did Not Know Each Other
Both WFAA-TV and The Dallas Morning News reported that sources, whom they did not name, said that Botham Jean and Amber Guyger did not know each other. “The man killed by a Dallas police officer at his apartment on Thursday night did not know the officer,” reported WFAA-TV. Those accounts were essentially confirmed by the attorney representing the family of Jean, a native of Saint Lucia who came to the United States to study accounting and later obtained a job in risk assessment for a major company.
Morning News reporter Naomi Martin, who was first to break the officer’s name, reported through a source that Jean and Guyger had never met before.
Jean, 26, was a beloved person known for his church involvement, leadership on campus, smile, and friendly demeanor. His family’s lawyer is calling for Guyger’s “swift” arrest.
The Dallas Police Department confirmed Amber Guyger was the officer who shot Jean on the evening of September 8, 2018. “The officer involved in this incident has been identified as Officer Amber Guyger #10702. She has been on the department four years and she is assigned to the Southeast Patrol Division,” Dallas police wrote on Twitter.
The photo that went viral did appear originally on Jean’s Instagram page, Heavy confirmed.
However, an investigation by Heavy determined that the women in the photo are not Guyger, and other news media have also confirmed as much. WFAA-TV, for example, wrote that the photo was not of Amber Guyger. Steve Eager, a Fox 4 television anchor in Dallas, wrote on Twitter, “Please don’t allow yourself to be trolled by idiots. I personally can’t identify shooting victim Botham Jean. But my friend who knows the police officer says the one on the ‘(left)’ is NOT the 5’3” blonde haired, blue eyed police officer who fired the shot.”
Here are some real photos of Amber Guyger from her sister’s Facebook page:
Lee Merritt, one of the lawyers representing Botham Jean’s family, revealed in a news conference on September 8 that the family has no evidence that Jean knew Guyger. Merritt denied social media claims that Guyger knew Jean before the shooting, saying, “We have nothing to substantiate those claims. Certainly no one that has been attached to the family or any of the law enforcement officers we’ve spoken to can confirm that, in fact they say just the opposite.”
Dallas Police Were Seeking a Manslaughter Warrant But the Texas Rangers, Who Took Over the Investigation, Waited Until Sunday
Amber Rene Guyger had not been subjected to arrest until the Sunday announcement from the Rangers that she was in custody and being accused of manslaughter. Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall previously said that police had enough evidence to seek a warrant for manslaughter, but police revealed on Saturday that the Texas Rangers, who took over the investigation, were still investigating and wanted to wait on any warrant. That changed Sunday with the arrest announcement. Online records show that Amber Guyger has long ties to Texas and is 30-years-old.
“When the Rangers arrived, the investigation was turned over to them and they made the decision to postpone pursuing a warrant, until they could follow up on information that they received from the interview with the officer,” Dallas police explained, without elaborating. “The Texas Rangers will take the appropriate time to review the vast amount of evidence and information secured by Dallas Police Department investigators. This will allow them to be thorough in their decision as to how to move forward.”
Police have not released many specifics of the shooting, although they did say previously that they were testing Guyger for drugs and alcohol. “On September 6, 2018 at about 9:59 p.m., an off duty Dallas Police officer called police dispatch and said she was involved in a shooting at the apartments located at 1210 S. Lamar,” police wrote in a previous news release.
“Preliminary information suggests that the officer arrived home in full uniform after working a full shift. The officer reported to the responding officers that she entered the victim’s apartment believing that it was her own. At some point, the officer fired her weapon striking the victim. Responding officers administered aid to the victim, a 26-year-old male, at the scene. The victim was then transported to the hospital and pronounced deceased.”
Police said it wasn’t clear what interaction occurred between Jean and Guyger leading to the shooting.
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