More than a year after she fatally shoot Botham Jean, 26, in his Dallas apartment on Sept. 6, 2018, a trial for Amber Guyger is now underway in the city. She is facing murder charges.
Guyger, a former Dallas police officer, told 9-1-1 dispatchers and investigators that she mistakingly entered Jean’s apartment thinking it was her own after ending a lengthy work shift. In their building, Jean’s apartment was one floor directly above Guyger’s. She was still in uniform, and Jean was unarmed. The incident sparked national outcry amid a string of fatal police shootings of unarmed black men.
Though the case was at first investigated as an officer-involved shooting, Guyger was off-duty at the time, and the investigation protocol changed by the next day to include charges against Guyger, according to the Dallas Police Chief.
Here’s what to know about the trial.
Who was Botham Jean?
Jean grew up in St. Lucia, and moved to Arkansas in 2011, according to Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA, to study accounting and information technology at Harding University. He was a singer, according to a statement from the university, and often led campus events in worship.
“Botham was in the prime of his life,” Jean’s uncle, Ignatius Jean, told the Associated Press.
Jean graduated from Harding in 2016, and moved to Dallas to begin a career at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Tim Ryan, PwC U.S. Chairman, later announced a campaign to address unconscious racial bias after learning of Jean’s killing.
“For many, Bo’s death is the fullest manifestation of the bias that black people in this country regularly experience in their daily lives,” Ryan wrote in an opinion piece for The Dallas Morning News. “As chief executives and business leaders, we may not have the power to stop tragedies like what happened to Bo from happening again. However, we do have power and influence, and there is a lot we can do to address implicit bias in order to make our workplaces and communities more just, equitable and inclusive.”
On Sept. 6, Harding University announced the inaugural recipients of the Botham Jean scholarship at the university’s School of Business Administration. The scholarship was established by Harding and PwC in Jean’s honor.
“In telling [Jean’s] story, we challenge recipients to be great students and campus leaders, and most importantly, to follow Christ with their hearts,” said Bryan Burks, Vice President of University Advancement, in a public statement. “While Botham’s life was cut short, he is remembered through this scholarship that will continue to impact the lives of our students for years to come.”
What has happened since the shooting in September 2018?
At a press conference the day after the shooting, Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall told reporters that Guyger’s blood was tested for drug and alcohol use — the results of which have not been released publicly, but might be used as evidence in the trial — and a warrant was issued for her arrest. Hall added it wasn’t clear what kind of interaction Guyger and Jean had when she entered the apartment. Guyger shot him, called 9-1-1 and police arrived in four minutes. Jean was taken to a hospital where he later died, Hall said.
Guyger was charged with manslaughter and arrested three days after the shooting.
Texas Rangers also arrived the day after the shooting to conduct an independent investigation.
Guyger was fired by the Dallas Police Department on Sept. 24, the same day as Jean’s funeral in St. Lucia. She had been employed by the police department for four years. Jean’s family attorneys called the firing a success, according to the AP, but were committed to seeing her sentenced for murder. Guyger’s attorney, Robert Rogers, called the decision to fire Guyger a bowing “to pressure from anti-police groups,” the AP reported. At the time, it was the first statement released by Guyger’s representatives since the shooting.
Rogers added “words can never express our sorrow for the pain suffered by those who knew and loved Botham Jean.”
TIME has reached out to Guyger’s attorney for comment.
Guyger was later released on a $300,000 bond, according to WFAA.
Adding to the already controversial case, the Dallas Police Department requested a search warrant for Jean’s apartment several hours after the shooting occurred, according to WFAA. The police found 10.4 grams of marijuana. The publication of the warrant (and its findings) drew immediate backlash, and some called it a “smear campaign” against Jean.
“It’s a pattern that we’ve seen before,” Lee Merritt, one of Jean’s family attorneys, told WFAA. “We have a cop who clearly did something wrong. And instead of investigating the homicide — instead of going into her apartment and seeing what they can find, instead of collecting evidence relevant for the homicide investigation — they went out specifically looking for ways to tarnish the image of this young man.”
By November 2018, a grand jury had upped the charge against Guyger from manslaughter to murder, and she now faces life in prison. Under a manslaughter charge, she faced 20 years in prison, according to the AP.
A jury was selected in September of 2019, and opening statements will begin Monday. The trial is expected to last two weeks.
What could happen to Amber Guyger?
Guyger, 31, is facing life in prison should a jury find her guilty of murder. If she is found not guilty of murder, she could still face lesser charges of manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, according to The Dallas Morning News. (That she pulled the trigger and killed Jean is not in dispute.)
Demographic information on the jury — who will be sequestered at the judge’s request — has not yet been made public.