DALLAS — Anger continued to simmer as protesters briefly interrupted a Dallas City Council meeting Wednesday, nearly a week after an off-duty officer killed an unarmed man in his apartment.
Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger, who is white, has been charged with manslaughter after killing her neighbor, Botham Shem Jean, a black man. She told police she mistakenly thought Jean was in her apartment.
Residents and activists condemned the fatal shooting at the City Council meeting and called for an upgrading of the police citizen review board to provide it with subpoena and investigative powers to ensure more police accountability. Mayor Mike Rawlings called a recess and left the meeting as residents chanted: “No justice. No peace.”
Rawlings later told the The Dallas Morning News that he, along with the city manager and Police Chief Ulysha Renee Hall met with the activists who want to overhaul the current citizens police review board. The members of the 15-person board are appointed by Council members.
“It must have teeth. It must have subpoena power. It must be able to hold these police officers accountable for what they do,” said demonstrator Olinka Green, according to CNN affiliate KTVT. “Because if we were to do the same thing, you guarantee we’d be locked up tight.”
Reggie Ruffin also expressed support for more police accountability.
“We need to curtail the police because the police have made it plain: ‘If you’re white, you’re right, if you’re black, we’ll put you flat on your back,'” Ruffin said. “And we’re not going to live that way. We shouldn’t have to live that way.”
The fatal shooting happened at the South Side Flats in Dallas where Guyger and Jean both lived. Her apartment is directly beneath Jean’s.
Jean was home alone when Guyger, still in uniform after her shift, entered his apartment, Hall said at the time of the shooting. Guyger parked her vehicle on the fourth floor, entered the building and walked toward what she thought was her apartment, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
According to the affidavit, the door was slightly ajar as Guyger tried to use her key, which had an electronic chip, to enter. When she was able to open the door, she saw the interior was almost completely dark. Guyger described seeing a large silhouette and drew her firearm thinking there was a burglar in her apartment. She said Jean ignored her verbal commands and she fired two shots, hitting him once in the torso, the affidavit said.
Jean, a 26-year-old native of St. Lucia, died at a hospital.
Guyger, a four-year veteran of the department, was released on a $300,000 bond after she was charged Sunday.
On Monday, demonstrators expressed anger at the fatal shooting. Police used “pepper balls” on some of the about 200 protestors at a demonstration. Hall later criticized the use of the projectiles and ordered investigators to review the matter.
“They are only to be utilized if instructed to do so by the on-scene commander or if there is an immediate threat to the public,” the chief said. “I plan to meet directly with the leadership of the demonstration to address their concerns.”
Dominique Alexander, founder and president of Next Generation Action Network, told the council he wanted to know that his two sons are “going to be safe in their own living room,” and he wanted them to be able to decide where they want to live and start a family when they grow up.
Alexander was one of the activists who met with the mayor and police chief, the Dallas Morning News reported.
“I want to have the confidence that Ms. Jean had with sending her boy across the world,” he said.
Jean’s funeral service will be held Thursday in Richardson, Texas.