The Botham Jean killing: Cops obtain warrant to search victim's apartment for ... narcotics?

Hoo boy. I hope this isn’t what it looks like. Because what it looks like to a lot of people on social media is that the cops are scrambling for reasons to justify Jean’s shooting by Dallas cop Amber Guyger, who supposedly thought he was inside her apartment rather than his own.

Maybe he was out of his mind on angel dust, with the strength of 10 men, and lunged at her!

I’ll defer to legal eagles on this but it’s possible people are reading too much into the language here.

“Any contraband, such as narcotics, and other items that may have been used in [the] criminal offense.” Guyger’s the one who’s been charged with an offense, of course, not Jean. As I read that, they’re looking for drugs that she may have used — prescription or otherwise — not that he did. Maybe she offered that as an excuse when detectives asked her how she could have possibly mistaken Jean’s apartment for her own. “I’d just done a long shift (15 hours!), I was tired and distracted, and I was on painkillers because of an injury/toothache/whatever,” yadda yadda. She might be setting up some sort of “diminished capacity” defense and police want to know if there’s any evidence of it at the scene.

Alternatively, it could be that the cops are anticipating that Guyger’s lawyers will try to claim later that Jean was high on drugs and they’re trying to rule that out in advance. Former public defender Walter Katz says it’s possible:

Or maybe the cynics are right and Dallas PD is setting up Jean as some sort of crackhead whose behavior allegedly threatened Guyger when she came to his door, leaving her with little choice but to gun him down. If so, that … will not work out well for them in the battle for public opinion.

Meanwhile, there sure are a lot of versions of what happened floating around. The police affidavit I mentioned last night claims that it was a pure misunderstanding: Guyger came to the door believing it was her apartment, found it slightly open(!) and thus was able to push her way in, saw a man in the dark and assumed he was a burglar, gave some sort of command for him to follow, then fired. A horrendous but innocent case of mistaken self-defense. Is that really how it went down, though?

Guyger’s account of the incident in the affidavit contains new details and key differences from early reports by the local media. For example, on Saturday, the local NBC news affiliate, citing an anonymous police source, wrote that Guyger “struggled with the lock” and was “fight[ing] with the key when the resident swung open the door.” In that account, the shooting happened in the doorway to the apartment. The story was syndicated by other NBC news outlets. NBC has since deleted the account of the anonymous police source (an archived version of the article is preserved here) “due to conflicting reports of the incident from various sources.”

However, that “conflicting report” is similar to the one given in the Texas Rangers’ search warrant affidavit filed on Saturday, which states that Guyger was “attempting to enter the apartment with a set of keys” when Jean “confronted the officer at the door.” There is no mention of Guyger giving “verbal commands” — though a neighbor is noted as having heard “an exchange of words” — before shooting Jean.

Did Guyger silently push past a slightly open door or was she rattling the lock and the doorknob, bringing Jean to the door to see what the commotion was about? If they were face to face in the doorway, she could have seen him clearly in the light from the corridor. She also had room to turn and run or at least back away while asking him who he was and why he was in her apartment. How did he end up shot before he had the chance to say, “This is my apartment, not yours”?

Is it even possible that Jean’s door was slightly ajar?

The doors have electronic locks that blink red when the wrong key is entered, which should have been a clue to Guyger that she was at the wrong door. (Not a strong clue, though. She may have assumed that her key was malfunctioning.) Although I can’t find anything definitive, there are also reports out there that she was holding several items (groceries? the narcotics cops are looking for?) when she got to the door and started fidgeting with the lock, supposedly believing she was at the entrance to her own apartment. At some point she put the items down to treat the lock more aggressively — but if that’s true, she probably would have seen the red doormat in front of Jean’s door. That should have shaken her out of the absentminded belief that she was entering her own apartment; her own pad doesn’t have a doormat in front, apparently. Yet she proceeded anyway. Hmmm.

There’s a much more sinister scenario being floated too, one that completely rejects the “mistaken apartment” theory. A lawyer for Jean’s family claims that Jean had received noise complaints from a downstairs neighbor; Guyger lived directly beneath him. The lawyer also says a witness heard banging on his door and a woman saying “Let me in” before the shots that killed him were fired. What if Guyger got home from work after a long shift, found more noise coming from upstairs despite her complaints, and snapped? She went up there to confront him, an argument ensued, and she shot him in cold blood? The wrinkle in that theory, though, is that (unless I missed it) there’s no report from any witnesses about a protracted argument. Per the lawyer, there’s just a woman saying “Let me in,” shots fired “shortly after,” then a male voice crying, “Oh my God, why did you do that?” If that’s how it went down, she stormed up there intent on executing him. Over … noise?