The Dallas Police Department has launched an internal investigation to determine if someone within the department leaked the 911 audio from the phone call former officer Amber Guyger made after shooting an unarmed man in September.
The audio was obtained and released on Monday night by the Star-Telegram’s media partner WFAA-TV.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, along with other media outlets, requested the 911 audio and other documentation related to the investigation. The attorney general denied the request. WFAA didn’t say how the station obtained the audio.
Police officials said they did not authorize the release of the audio.
“At this time, it is unknown how WFAA received the information regarding the 911 call as the Dallas Police Department has not authorized the release of the audio evidence,” a spokesperson said. “Currently, the Department has generated an Internal Affairs Investigation.”
Guyger, 30, has been charged with murder in the shooting death of 26-year-old Botham Jean.
Jean was inside his apartment preparing to watch football when, according to court documents, Guyger entered his apartment after her shift with the Dallas Police Department. Guyger has told investigators that she believed she had entered her own apartment and that Jean was an intruder. She was still wearing her uniform, but not a body camera.
Attorneys for Jean’s family have also been critical about the release of the audio. Lee Merritt said on Facebook that supporters of Guyger’s leaked the recording “in hope of drumming up sympathy ahead of the looming murder trial.”
In an interview with WFAA-TV, attorney Darryl Washington said it’s going to be hard for Jean’s family to hear the audio.
“There was nothing in that video or the recording where she ever indicated she thought Botham was trying to harm her,” Washington said. “She was very fast to shoot without asking very many questions.”
In the audio of the almost six-minute call, Guyger can be heard saying about 19 times that she thought she was in her own apartment. Her apartment was directly below Jean’s. The apartment complex, Southside Flats, in the 1200 block of South Lamar Street, is blocks away from Dallas police headquarters. Residents park on the same floor as their apartment.
“I’m an off-duty officer,” Guyger told the operator. “I thought I was in my apartment and I shot a guy thinking he was, thinking it was my apartment.”
The operator told Guyger that help was on the way and she responded, “I know but I’m, I’m going to lose my job. I thought it was my apartment.”
Guyger can then be heard talking to Jean.
“Hey bud. Hey bud. Hey bud. Come on. Oh [expletive]. I thought it was my apartment,” and then later, “Oh my god. I’m done. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry. Hey bud.”
She becomes more frantic and panicked and continues to repeat that she thought she was in her apartment. Asked what the gate code was to get inside the complex, Guyger said she didn’t know.
Merritt said there is nothing new that can be gained from the recording that would justify her actions.
“Guyger will almost certainly argue at trial that she ‘feared for her life,’” he wrote. “She failed to make any such claim moments after shooting Botham in the chest. If he presented a threat to her at all — this would be the first thing she said as she explained away her actions on the call ... The claim that Guyger entered Mr. Jean’s apartment by mistake has not been seriously disputed by prosecutors or by the Jean family. However, the law simply does not allow for a person to enter the home of another, murder them, and justify their actions by saying they believed they were in their own home.”
He further said that Guyger was more worried about losing her job than the life of the person she shot.
“There is no indication (in the audio) that she is rendering aid,” he wrote.
Guyger was originally charged with manslaughter a few days after Jean was shot. She was indicted by a Dallas County Grand Jury in November on a murder charge. Her trial is scheduled to begin in late September.