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(WFAA) — As questions continue as to why Officer Amber Guyger hasn’t been terminated two weeks after she shot and killed Botham Jean in his apartment, Dallas police Chief Renee Hall once again addressed the subject.
However, there many questions linger behind her reasoning.
“When I read Chief Hall’s statement today, it just doesn’t make much sense to me,” Dallas criminal defense attorney Peter Schulte told WFAA after reading the release. “I don’t know if it’s ignorance or being naive, but it doesn’t make any sense legally.”
In the statement released Thursday, Hall said she doesn’t “want to interfere with the on-going criminal investigation into [Guyger’s] actions.”
“Here’s why,” the statement read. “As an employer, DPD can compel Officer Guyger to provide a statement during a DPD administrative investigation and those statements given to DPD could potentially compromise the criminal investigation.”
“That is not a risk I am willing to take,” Hall continued. “We cannot let the criminal case be determined on a ’technicality’ rather than the facts. An exhaustive and thorough criminal investigation is essential, and as soon as we are assured that conducting an administrative investigation will not impede on the criminal investigation, we will proceed.”
Here’s why Hall’s statement is baffling.
Statements given to internal affairs cannot be used in the criminal investigation. Officers are given what’s called a Garrity warning. That means anything they say is only used for the purpose of disciplining an officer or firing them.
The Texas Rangers are conducting a separate investigation from the Dallas Police Department and have already taken Guyger’s statement.
DPD can fire Guyger for being arrested and charged with manslaughter even without Guyger giving a statement to the department.
There have been numerous occasions where officers were either under criminal investigation or have been arrested and an internal affairs investigation was conducted and they were fired. Both Amy Wilburn, who shot a man in his car, and Cardan Spencer, who shot a mentally ill man standing in street, were fired by the Dallas Police Department before the grand jury heard their case.
Prosecutors can’t even ask DPD for the internal affairs documents to use in the criminal case. They are completely separate.
“Every citizen is innocent until if proven guilty in court, and I understand that,” Schulte, a Dallas criminal defense, said. “But there’s been a lot of backlash in the community. There’s been a lot of protest. There’s no issue with Chief Hall saying, ‘You know what? You’re going to be terminated. You have your rights under civil service state law to appeal your termination and go through the government code to get your job back, but for right now, for the best of the department, it’s time to part ways … It should have probably already happened already.”