DALLAS – A police shooting as perplexing as any in Dallas history, the Amber Guyger case has riveted the public's attention from the start.
With testimony scheduled to start Monday, Dallas is bracing for the verdict in the high-profile murder trial of the 31-year-old fired police officer.
A year ago this month, Guyger was off duty but still in her Dallas police uniform when she shot her 26-year-old neighbor, Botham Jean. She told police she thought his apartment was her own and that he was an intruder.
The news ricocheted across Dallas and around a nation already polarized by high-profile police shootings of unarmed black men.
The case has triggered protests and calls for oversight and reforms in the Dallas Police Department.
With tensions running high, Dallas officers are restricted from taking time off during the trial and have been told to have all of their safety equipment readily available.
The question is how will a deeply split community react to the verdict, whether it's a murder conviction, a finding of guilt on a lesser charge like manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, or an outright acquittal. The case could also end in a mistrial if jurors can't come to a unanimous verdict.
Criminal justice experts have urged those suspicious of police to let the legal process play out.
But Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata warned that some community leaders will try to exploit the case, especially if Guyger is found not guilty.
"There are individuals who make a living off chaos, and they will make sure there is chaos," Mata said.
Changa Higgins, one of the activists in a coalition supporting more oversight of Dallas police, said framing protesters as violent is an old tactic used to discredit attempts to reform police.
"It's an old police narrative of how they paint the people who are calling for justice," said Higgins, 46.
That narrative portrays protesters as a problem, he added.
"The reason why this is even being talked about is that black communities and brown communities who have borne the brunt of bad policing in Dallas feel like there are no other options than to protest for justice," Higgins said.
Protests, he said, "including those that boil up into uprisings, are not made by bad people who just want to cause chaos."
"They're made by normal, everyday people, who feel like they have no more options. And they can't get justice, and their humanity is being threatened."
Alex Piquero, a professor of criminology at the University of Texas at Dallas, said it's understandable people want to see swift justice and actions taken to prevent such tragedies, especially in a community with a history of controversial police shootings.
In the past two years, Dallas County juries have sent a message, sentencing two former officers to prison for murdering unarmed teens.
Fired Balch Springs officer Roy Oliver got 15 years for killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards while on duty. Ken Johnson, a Farmers Branch cop, was sentenced to 10 years for chasing down and killing Jose Cruz after catching the 16-year-old breaking into his SUV while he was off duty.
Hard as it is, Piquero said, people must try to withhold judgment until all the facts are heard.
"We only know what we have heard," Piquero said. "Regardless of what side they're on, people need to wait for all of the evidence to be presented before they rush to a judgment."