By Jennifer Emily The Dallas Morning News
DALLAS — The city of Dallas refuses to release a recording of the 911 call that former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger made after she fatally shot a man in his apartment last month.
An attorney for the city said in a letter dated Monday that the Police Department and Dallas County district attorney’s office are asking Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to allow them to withhold the 911 recording, which has been requested by The Dallas Morning News.
Assistant City Attorney Pavala Armstrong wrote that releasing the information would interfere with the investigation into the Sept. 6 shooting.
The News is asking for the recording to give the public a better understanding of what happened that night at the South Side Flats apartments, blocks away from police headquarters.
Some police departments release recordings of 911 calls soon after they are made. The Dallas County district attorney’s office in recent years has sought to prevent their release, saying it would compromise investigations.
First Assistant District Attorney Mike Snipes said Tuesday that the office hoped holding back information such as the 911 calls would cut back on pretrial publicity. Snipes, the top prosecutor under District Attorney Faith Johnson, said the office wants to try the case in Dallas and not have a judge move it elsewhere in the state on grounds that jurors here have already made up their minds.
Botham Jean’s death has been international news in the weeks since his death.
Guyger, 30, was off duty but in uniform when she shot the 26-year-old. She said she mistook his apartment in their building in the Cedars neighborhood for her own and thought he was a burglar.
In the days after the shooting, a law enforcement official told The News that Guyger had called 911 in tears just after the shooting.
“I thought it was my apartment,” she said repeatedly, and apologized to Jean, according to the official. “I’m so sorry.”
Police arrived within four minutes of her call, and paramedics rushed Jean to Baylor University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Three days later, Guyger was arrested on a manslaughter charge. Police Chief U. Renee Hall fired Guyger on Sept. 24.
Other records that police and prosecutors refuse to release include: Guyger’s personnel file, records related to her shooting of a man she said took her Taser during a struggle in 2017, Guyger’s clock-in and clock-out times the day of the shooting, Guyger’s annual salary, previous administrative leave with the department, other 911 calls about the shooting, Guyger’s work schedule, body camera and dash camera videos, and any off-duty jobs she was approved to work.
The city cited a variety of other reasons for withholding the information, including that the release of some items would represent “an unwanted invasion of personal privacy” and would be “highly intimate or embarrassing and of no legitimate concern to the public.”
The News is also seeking drug and alcohol test results from blood taken from Guyger the night of the shooting. Such records are typically not released to the public. They could be part of any criminal or civil court proceeding. Jean’s autopsy report is also still pending.
Jean, an accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, lived on the fourth floor in apartment 1478 of the South Side Flats. Guyger, an officer for four years, was his immediate downstairs neighbor.
Guyger told police the door to Jean’s apartment was unlocked and ajar. His family says he would have locked his door.
They also question Guyger’s version of events, including that she mistakenly went to the wrong apartment.
Jean was a native of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. He was buried in his home country Sept. 24 in a cemetery that overlooks the sea.