By Rich McKay
(Reuters) – A Dallas police officer was charged on Sunday with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a neighbor, who authorities said was shot by the officer when she walked into an apartment she thought was her own and mistook the man living there for an intruder.
The bizarre sequence of events unfolded after the police officer, Amber Guyger, 30, had just completed a shift late on Thursday and was still in uniform as she returned to an apartment she erroneously believed was hers, police said.
Inside she encountered the apartment’s rightful occupant, 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean, leading her to fire her weapon at him before she called emergency-911 for assistance, according to an account described to reporters on Friday by Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall.
The deadly confrontation immediately took on racial overtones, as Guyger is white and Jean, whose family is from the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, was black.
The shooting marked the latest in a flurry of high-profile cases in recent years in which unarmed black man have died at the hands of white police officers around the country, stirring a national debate over racial inequalities in the U.S. criminal justice system and giving rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Hall said a blood sample was taken from Guyger to determine whether there were any drugs or alcohol in her system. But the police chief turned over investigation of the incident to the Texas Rangers because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Authorities came under fire from Jean’s family, however, for saying initially that Guyger would be arrested on suspicion of manslaughter but then delaying in bringing a case against the officer.
On Sunday, Guyger was arrested on a charge of manslaughter in the shooting but was released later after posting $300,000 bond, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety and a clerk for the Kaufman County Jail told Reuters by phone.
An attorney for Guyger could not immediately be reached for comment.
The police said no other information was available Sunday night.
Jean’s family attorney, S. Lee Merritt, said that a local service is planned for Jean on Thursday and his remains would be sent to his family’s home in the Caribbean.
(Reporting by Rich McKay and Steve Gorman; Editing by Michael Perry)
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