Botham Jean: We Remember

By Cherish Kyeyune
Image of a twenty-six year old Botham Shem Jean
Twenty-six year old Botham Shem Jean

The death of our beloved island brother and son of Allison and Bertrum Jean sparked outraged across the island and overseas, over his untimely demised. Botham Jean who should be enjoying his 27th year on Earth was shot and killed in his apartment at the age of 26.

Botham attended Saint Mary’s College and was nothing short of a role model for his peers. He was also very active in the church.In 2016 he went to Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas to advance his studies. Later landing an internship at the company called PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas as an accountant. He expressed his state of life living in the U.S to his parents. He told his mother “I enter an elevator and a little white lady pulls her bag closer to her because she thinks I’m going to rob her.”“I always told him, ‘Why do you have to be so dressy?’” Ms. Jean said in an interview. “He said ‘Mom, I don’t want to be stopped. I don’t want for them to think I’m somebody I’m not.’” Ms. Jean said her son had to explain— where for black men in particular, a minor traffic stop can turn deadly. Because of this Botham Jean would always make sure his headlights worked and his car was in good condition so he wouldn’t be pulled over.

On the night of September 6th, two gun shots were heard from his apartment; Botham was met by Amber Guyger, in his own apartment at night. Under the belief that she was in her own home and according to her, being robbed; after a series of unanswered calls to Botham Jean, she shot him in the chest at 10.p.m.  She called the 911 right after. In the call that was officially released on April 29th,she said at one point, “I’m going to lose my job.” After asking the operator to send a “supervisor,” Guyger kept repeating, “I thought it was my apartment.” Guyger says later in the call that “I’m so tired.” He was transported to the Baylor University medical center by the paramedics where he was pronounced dead.

On the morning of September 7th the death of Botham jean broke headlines and Dallas County District attorney’s office public integrity division response team began its investigation. Amber Gugyer’s blood sample was drawn on late September 6thor early September 7th and she was soon placed on administrative leave.

Texas rangers were called to conduct a separate investigation. Police chief Renee Hall informed a judge had yet to sign the warrant because the rangers were still interviewing Gugyer and wanted to investigate new information they got before issuing one.Dallas police obtained a search warrant for Jean’s apartment. On September 8th the rangers took over the investigation. On September 9th Guyger turns herself in to Kaufman County authorities and is charged with manslaughter. Shown on the jail log she was admitted at 7:20 p.m. with bail set at $300,000. Within an hour she post bond and was released. The Rangers turned over the case to the Dallas County district attorney’s officer after the completion of the initial investigation, yet a fuller Rangers investigation was still ongoing.

On September 10th the Texas rangers arrest warrant affidavit was made public. According to the document, Guyger told authorities she had mistakenly parked on the fourth floor instead of the third and inserted her key into Jean’s door, which was slightly ajar. She told authorities the apartment was almost completely dark and thought she was being burglarized. She gave verbal commands that were ignored and fired twice. She then called 911, gave first aid and turned on the lights. When 911 dispatch asked where she was, she returned to the front door to see the address and realized the apartment wasn’t hers, the affidavit stated. The affidavit also includes details about the Rangers search warrant for Jean’s apartment and says that they thought he may have been expecting a visitor, because a search warrant or consent is required to search a home and Jean was not able to give consent, police asked a judge for a search warrant.

September 11th the district attorney’s office executed a search warrant seizing electronic door locks from both jean’s and Guyger’s apartments. Data that could confirm whether or not Guyger went home before going to jean’s apartment. Photos and videos were also collected from Jean’s apartment as well as gunshot residue and laser measurements of the fire trajectory. The underlying affidavit outlining probable cause for the warrant was sealed. The following day another search warrant was granted to obtain surveillance footage from the night of the shooting and all entry and access logs for the complex.

On September 12th in St Lucia a vigil was held to commemorate the shortly lived life of Botham Jean at the La Clery playing field. Jean was remembered and honored on September 13th amongst peers and family at Greenville Avenue Church of Christ. On the same day The Dallas police search warrant containing the details about what was found in Jean’s apartment, was returned and made public by a judge. Items police found inside his apartment include two fired cartridge casings, a laptop, ballistic vest with “police” markings, 10.4 grams of marijuana and a marijuana grinder and two used packages of medical aid. The warrant did not specify whom the items belonged to. The mother of Botham Jean said her son has been “smeared” and that people are covering up for Guyger, who she refers to as the devil.

On September 16th an email to residents obtained by WFAA-TV (Channel 8) states that Guyger no longer lives at South Side Flats but it didn’t state when she moved. September 24th Chief Hall fires Guyger, said an internal investigation dictated that the officer had engaged in “adverse conduct” when she was charged with manslaughter. The firing came after weeks of public calls for her termination — and explanations from Hall for why she couldn’t terminate the officer yet.

On the same day in St Lucia,the funeral of Botham jean was held, where the entire island mourned the loss. The family established the Botham Jean Foundation after his death, with his sister serving as president, to keep his memory alive and serve vulnerable communities in the US and St. Lucia.

October 26thJean’s family filed a federal suit against Guyger and the city of Dallas claiming Guyger used excessive force and violated Jean’s constitutional and civil rights. The suit also stated the police chief, City Council and city manager failed to implement and enforce measures for the Police Department “that respected Jean’s constitutional rights.”

November 26th, Dallas County grand jury hears evidence against Guyger, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case.  Four days later, on November 30th Dallas County grand jury indicts Guyger on a murder charge after weighing the evidence presented against her. Guyger turned herself into the Mesquite jail and was booked on the murder charge and quickly posted $200,000 bond.

January 8th State District Judge Tammy Kemp, who is overseeing Guyger’s murder trial, issued a gag order after the first court date.  The order prevents attorneys in the case and Guyger from speaking publicly about Jean’s slaying. March 18th Gugyger murder trial was set for August 12th, less than a year after she shot and killed jean. On April 1st Kemp signed an order moving Guyger’s trial from August to Sept. 23 after her attorneys Robert Rogers and Toby Shook filed a motion seeking a continuance. They requested the delay because Shook is the lead attorney in a federal trial scheduled for the end of July.

Jury selection began on Friday September 6th2019  – the anniversary of his death. On that same day – the foundation planned a “Be Like Bo” Day that will feature the launch of a mentorship program.

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