Ex-Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger wept on the witness stand and her quiet voice broke as she repeated “I’m sorry” to the courtroom, expressing regret over taking her neighbor’s life after mistaking his apartment for hers.
“I feel like a piece of crap,” she said, sobbing. “I hate that I have to live with this, and ask God for forgiveness and I hate myself every single day. I wish he had had the gun and had killed me. I never wanted to take an innocent person’s life.”
Guyger’s emotional testimony began Friday morning when she took the stand in her defense during the fifth day of her murder trial. She laid out her narrative of what happened when she killed Botham Jean, believing he was a burglar inside her apartment, on Sept. 6, 2018.
Guyger said she was tired and “just ready to go home” when she left work on the night she entered Jean’s unit, confusing it for hers and fatally shooting him.
She earlier grew emotional on the stand while defense attorney Toby Shook began questioning her about when she tried to use her electronic key fob to open the door to Jean’s apartment, and had her recreate that moment following a brief break.
She had her bags and police vest slung on her left arm and used her right hand to put the key in the lock, she said. The door opened at that moment.
“I was scared,” she said. “Your heart rate just skyrockets.”
Guyger said she saw a “silhouette figure” in the distance near the window, drew her weapon and began shouting, “Let me see your hands! Let me see your hands!”
Jean, she added, appeared to be coming toward her and yelled, “Hey! Hey Hey!” in an “aggressive voice.”
That’s when she shot him.
She only noticed she was in the wrong apartment after seeing an ottoman in the middle of the floor and noticed the television was on, she testified.
Earlier, Guyger explained how she was having an affair with her work partner but had ended the relationship although the two had been texting and shared a phone call just before she got home.
“I felt like it was morally wrong,” Guyger said about her relationship with Officer Martin Rivera, adding, “I knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere.”
She also said she was “embarrassed” by the relationship and didn’t want her colleagues to know about it because Rivera is married. The pair were partners in the same elite crime response team.
Guyger’s plans on the night Jean died have become central to the trial.
Prosecutors have used text messages she shared with Rivera to make the case that Guyger was not as fatigued and made plans to meet with Rivera on the night she said she mistakenly entered Jean’s apartment when she got home just before 10 p.m.
Guyger on Friday said she was tired after her 13-1/2-hour shift, but that while she and Rivera’s physical relationship had ended, they still shared flirtatious text messages.