A former Dallas police officer on trial for shooting her neighbor after entering the wrong apartment said she fired the fatal shots because she was afraid for her life.
“I was scared he was going to kill me,” an emotional Amber Guyger said on the stand Friday during her murder trial, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Guyger, 31, shot Botham Jean, a man who lived one floor above her, on Sept. 6, 2018, after she said she entered the apartment believing it was hers and there was an intruder inside.
Jean, a 26-year-old accountant, had been eating ice cream on his couch just moments before he was shot to death.
On Friday, the defense called the 31-year-old former cop to the stand to speak publicly for the first time about the fatal night.
Guyger told jurors she had been “scared to death” after opening the door of what she believed was her apartment and saw a shadowy figure in the darkness, CNN reports. The off-duty police officer, who was still wearing her uniform, quickly shouted, “Let me see your hands! Let me see your hands!” while drawing her gun.
She testified that Jean began to approach her, saying, “Hey, hey hey!” in what she believed was an aggressive tone before she fired the two shots that killed him.
It was at that moment that she realized she wasn’t in her own apartment and had just shot an innocent man.
“It started hitting me that this guy, I have no idea who he is, and that's when everything just started to spin," she said, according to the local paper.
When her lawyer began to question her about what happened at the door of the apartment, Guyger became so emotional the judge called a brief recess for her to regain her composure.
Guyger’s defense team has argued that Jean’s death was tragic but an innocent mistake, while prosecutors have pointed out what they say are clear signs she should have noticed she was not entering her own apartment.
On cross examination, Dallas County prosecutor Jason Hermus questioned Guyger about why she never attempted to perform CPR on Jean as he lay dying, despite the fact that she was trained to administer it.
“The state he was in, I knew it wasn't good," Guyger said in court.
She also said she wasn't thinking clearly while she was on the phone with a 911 operator trying to get Jean help.
Guyger also admitted that she had sent her former police partner, Martin Rivera — a married man she had been having an affair with — text messages while she was on the phone with 911.
“I was by myself with someone I had just shot," she said, according to The Dallas Morning News. "I was alone with him, and that's the scariest thing you could ever imagine, and I just wanted help."
When asked how Guyger feels now about taking Jean’s life, she said it’s a reality she has to live with every day.
"I feel like a terrible person. I feel like crap. I hate that I have to live with this every day of my life. I ask God for forgiveness and I hate myself every day," she said through tears.
While on the stand, Guyger also addressed her own past growing up in Arlington, a suburb of Dallas. As a young child, she told jurors, she had always wanted to be a police officer.
“I just wanted to help people and that was the one career that I thought I could help people in,” she said, according to The Associated Press.
The prosecution rested yesterday after presenting jurors with numerous differences they said Guyger should have spotted along the way to the apartment and once inside, including a bright red doormat and different furniture.
Earlier this week, Texas Ranger David Armstrong told jurors that nearly a quarter of the nearly 300 residents who lived in the third and fourth floor of the complex told investigators they had put their own key in the wrong apartment door at some point, CNN reports.
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