A call for justice: The shooting of Botham Shem Jean

Botham Shem Jean
Botham Shem Jean

The Dallas Examiner

On Sept. 6, about 9:59 p.m., police were called to the South Side Lofts after an off duty White female Dallas police officer shot Botham Shem Jean inside his apartment. Officer Amber Guyger was still in uniform and had just come off duty when she entered the apartment of Jean, who was unarmed, according to the Dallas Police Department.

Some members of the public have called this one of the worse police-involved shooting because it occurred in – what one would have thought to be – safety of the victim’s own home.

According to witness statements, a female voice was heard telling someone to let her in, just before gunfire was heard. Then shortly after, they stated a male’s voice was heard, asking why she shot him.

In contradiction of those accounts, Guyger stated that she thought it was her apartment, and the door was unlocked and ajar. And upon entering, she encountered the resident and shot him. She later stated that he ignored commands before she shot him, then turned the lights on and realized she was in the wrong apartment. She then called 911.

Responding officers responded in minutes to the apartments just down the street from its headquarters. They offered aid to the resident until Dallas Fire Rescue arrived and took Jean to the hospital where he later died.

“At the very early stages of this investigation – initial indications were that they were what we consider circumstances of an officer involved shooting,” Police Chief Renee Hall said during a news conference. “However, as we continued this investigation it became clear that we were dealing with what appears to be a much different and very unique situation.

“Therefore, we have ceased handling it under our normal officer involved shooting protocol, a blood sample was drawn to test for drugs and alcohol, we are in the process of obtaining a warrant, and we have also invited the Texas Rangers to conduct an independent investigation.”

Hall also stated that blood samples from Guyger has been taken for testing and are pending.

Guyger was placed on administrative leave immediately pending the outcome of the investigation and a warrant was issued the next day.

As the Texas Rangers began its investigation, the warrant was put on hold but was later reissued. The officer is currently being charged with manslaughter, but charges could be upgraded up to murder, according to District Attorney Faith Johnson.

Guyger was arrested Sunday and was released after posting a $300,000 bond.

Family, friends and members of the community have cried foul and are demanding an upgrade to murder on the charges.

The family of Jean along with their attorneys, Benjamin L. Crump and S. Lee Merritt, gathered Sunday at the Frank Crowley Courts Building for a news conference.

“Black people have been killed by police in some of the most arbitrary ways in America,” Crump stated. “Blacks have been killed for ‘driving while black’ in their automobiles, ‘walking while Black’ in their neighborhoods and now ‘living while black’ in their own apartment. Each time it is more shocking than before. This crime was not only a shock for the Jean family but also one that continues to astonish most sensible Americans.”

Merritt stated that he has witness accounts and video evidence.

The National Black Police Association stated that it will follow this case closely and has called for calm during the investigation.

“Based on multiple reports and the rapidly changing and troubling details about the incident, it is clear that there is much information to sort through in order to find the actual facts, and many questions to be answered,” a representative stated. “The NBPA agrees that Mr. Jean’s family deserves to have these questions answered with a thorough and expeditious investigation.

“The public has a vested interest in the fair, detailed, and transparent adjudication of this case as well, and the NBPA would ask for calm from the public as the case plays out in the criminal justice system. There should be no distractions from the obvious concerns about this case, and we urge the public – should they wish to use their First Amendment right to protest – to do so peacefully, and with respect for the grieving family in mind.

On Monday, a large crowd rallied in front of the Dallas police station to call for justice on behalf of Jean. The mass then marched to the apartments where Jean was shot to honor his memory. Later, another group of protestors joined the rally. Some members of the crowd began to walk toward Dallas City Hall but it had been blocked off by police cars and mounted police. After the crowd attempted to persist, police discharged pepper spray balls into the crowd, according to reports.

The city reported that the police chief was reviewing footage of the incident. Future rallies have been planned.

Jean, 26, was a risk assurance experienced associate at PwC, a multinational audit and assurance consulting tax services –the second largest professional services firm in the world.

“Whether you worked closely with #BothamJean or are just learning about his life, nobody can argue that he lived all of our values every single day. Share your memories using #BeLikeBo,” PwC posted on social media.

“Bo encompassed the best of humanity in a smile, a hug and a friendship,” Shanna St. Martin from PwC Dallas posted on LinkedIn.

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