Trial opens of US cop who killed neighbor in his own apartment

Amber Guyger, who is white, had claimed she thought her neighbor Botham Jean, who was black, was an intruder in her own apartment, but she had entered his apartment (AFP Photo/HO)

Washington (AFP) - A white policewoman went on trial in Dallas Friday for shooting and killing a black man in his own apartment, having mistaken it for hers.

Exactly one year after Amber Guyger, 31, killed Botham Shem Jean, 26, jury selection in the racially charged murder case began in the Texas city.

Guyger's attorneys have sought to move the case to another jurisdiction, on grounds that potential jurors in Dallas may already have strong views on the case, given the heavy media coverage it has fuelled.

The judge put off ruling on the request, saying she wanted to see if it would be possible to assemble a fair and impartial jury in Dallas.

Guyger told investigators she mistakenly entered the apartment of Jean, a native of St. Lucia in the Caribbean, one floor above her own, when she returned home from work on the evening of September 6, 2018.

Believing she was at her own apartment and seeing a silhouette of a figure who didn't respond to verbal commands, she fired two shots, killing him.

"I thought it was my apartment," she said in a 911 emergency call.

Guyger was only arrested 72 hours later and then charged with just manslaughter, sparking anger in the African-American community, which saw the case as potentially another one of a white police officer getting off lightly for killing a black man.

But after a grand jury investigation, Guyger, who has been fired from the police department, was charged with first-degree murder, which is punishable under Texas law with up to life in prison.