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Dallas County's top prosecutor suggested Monday that a stronger charge of murder is possible against the Dallas police officer who killed her neighbor after she mistakenly entered his apartment.
District Attorney Faith Johnson also attempted to deflect criticism of perceived special treatment in the case against Officer Amber Guyger to the Texas Rangers, the state's top law enforcement agency that was summoned to independently investigate last Thursday's fatal shooting.
It took almost three days before Guyger, 30, was arrested on a warrant for manslaughter after the fatal shooting of Botham Shem Jean, 26, and booked in a jail in neighboring Kaufman County. She was later released on a $300,000 bond, reported NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.
"That was totally their call, that was totally their responsibility, that was totally their lead," Johnson said at a news conference about how investigators first handled the case. "I cannot dictate to the Texas Rangers the process, the investigation, what they do and what they don't do."
She added that she had a "spirited conversation" with the Texas Rangers for two hours on Sunday about the manslaughter charge.
As Johnson continues to build a case against Guyger to present to a grand jury, a criminal justice expert said it's not unusual for law enforcement agencies to take their time before charging a suspect and that seeking a charge of murder may be difficult.
"The amount of time taken for officer-involved shootings can be long, and they are very in-depth and detailed," said Jon Maskály, a criminology professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. "She may have been off-duty at the time, but the department and everyone involved wants to make sure they get it right because the last thing they want is to fan the flames."
Johnson declined to discuss details about the case Monday, including reports about why Guyger mistook the victim's apartment for hers and how she got inside.
When asked about the potential for a murder charge against the officer, Johnson said "that very well may be an option."
"The grand jury is going to have a full picture of what happened in this situation," she added.
The Texas Rangers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It was also unclear if Guyger had a lawyer, and the president for Dallas' largest police union did not respond to a phone call Monday for comment.
Still, Johnson said that agency is vital in the case in order to bring transparency as opposed to allowing the Dallas Police Department to handle a situation involving one of its own.
Johnson said the agency's investigation is ongoing and more witnesses must still be interviewed, but it will ultimately be up to a grand jury to decide charges.
It was unclear when the Texas Rangers will release an incident report in the case.
Dallas police said that Guyger had finished an approximately 14-hour shift when she returned late Thursday to her South Side Flats apartment building just south of downtown Dallas.
Police have not detailed the interaction between the officer and Jean, but officials said that she admitted to entering his apartment by mistake and at some point, shooting him, prompting her to call 911.
Attorneys for the Jean family said the victim, a native of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, was shot in the chest and abdomen.
During a news conference Friday, Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall said a blood sample was drawn from Guyger to test the officer's drug and alcohol levels.
On Sunday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said Guyger ended up on Jean's floor after parking on the wrong level of the building's garage.
The Texas Rangers initially postponed a decision to pursue an arrest warrant — leading attorneys for Jean's family to demand the officer be treated like any other suspect in a shooting death.
Maskály said the case against this officer is further complicated because although she was off-duty, she was reportedly in uniform and had used her service weapon.
"What should be looked at is if she is treated like any other citizen in the state of Texas is treated," he said. "Officers by the nature of their job are given the benefit of the doubt by the legal system, so proving murder by the legal definition can be difficult."
Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Jean family, blasted law enforcement for deciding not to arrest Guyger the night of the shooting and said she should at least face a manslaughter charge.
"She shouldn't have left that scene without at least being in handcuffs," he said at a news conference Monday that included St. Lucia's prime minister, Allen Chastanet.
Jean's mother, Allison Jean, told reporters that she still wants to know why the officer fired — cutting short the life of her son, who loved to sing in church and had moved to Dallas to work at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
"I have asked too many questions, and I've been told that there are no answers yet," she said. "I'm looking forward to all of the powers that be to come up with the answers."