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One Year Anniversary of Botham Jean’s Death

By Mecah Joseph
Image of a twenty-six year old Botham Shem Jean

IT is officially one year today since the death of our very own, Botham Jean on September 6th 2018. Botham Jean was a 26-year-old accountant who was shot by Amber Guyger, a 31-year-old white police officer in Dallas, Texas. This series of unfortunate events followed the storyline whereby Guyger clocked out from work after a 13 hour shift and according to her, she accidently parked on the fourth floor of the parking lot in the building where she resided. However, this was one floor above her usual parking place. Guyger made her way to Jean’s unit which was directly above her apartment. She walked into what she allegedly assumed was her apartment, encountering and fatally shooting Botham, who was inside his own apartment at the time.

It was reported that Botham was shot once in the chest around 10 p.m. in his apartment which was located at South Side flats in the Cedars. Although Guyger is reported to have transported Jean to the Baylor University Medical Center, he eventually succumbed to his injuries resulting in his death.

At the time of this ongoing investigation which was led by the Texas Rangers, the level of debate and controversy had skyrocketed. Guyger was indicted after two months on the terms of a murder charge. On September 7th, Police Chief U. Renee Hall announced that the case was closed from investigation as an officer involved shooting and that a warrant would be sought for the arrest of Guyger who was not interviewed as yet. Thereafter, Guyger was placed on administrative leave and the authorities made it known that they were liaising with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office on the case. On September 7th, Police Chief Renee Hall held a press conference to make clear that the Dallas Police Department would ensure that a clear account was given for the duration of the investigation. Blood samples were also collected from Guyger to test for the presence of alcohol and drugs. Although the warrant listed items which were confiscated during the search very little details were disclosed to the public until September 13th.

However, on September 8th, the Rangers had taken over the investigation. Chief Hall announced that a judge was yet to go through with the process of signing the warrant as the Rangers were still in the process of interviewing Guyger. It was made clear that the Rangers wanted to continue investigating new information before finally issuing one. Later on, Guyger’s name was released by the authorities although they had previously stated that no formal identification of the shooter would be disclosed until the individual had been formally charged.

September 9th was marked by Guyger turning herself in to Kaufman County authorities where she was charged with manslaughter at 7:20 p.m. with a bail set at $300,000. However, within an hour Guyger posted bond and she was thereafter released.

Eventually the Dallas County district attorney’s officer took over the case from the Rangers after the first segment of completion on the investigation, however there was still a full Rangers investigation going on.

Following these events, on September 10th, the public was made aware of the arrest warrant affidavit by the Texas Rangers concerning Amber Guyger. The document highlighted the circumstances surrounding the shooting and Guyger’smisjudgment whereby she believed that she was in danger of being burglarized. Guyger commented that she had given verbal commands which were completely ignored and fired twice, thereafter called 911, gave first aid and turned on the lights. As her side of the story goes, soon after she realized her mistake when 911 dispatchers asked for her location – it was only then, according to official accounts that she realized she was not in her own apartment.

The district attorney’s office carried out a search warrant on September 11th seizing electronic door locks from both Jean’s and Guyger’s apartments to analyze data which could confirm whether or not Guyger was home before going to Jean’s apartment. Further pieces of evidence were collected such as photos and videos, gunshot residue, and laser measurements of the fire trajectory from Jean’s residence. Eventually over the course of the following days, further search warrants were issued to obtain surveillance footage from the night of the shooting and all entry and access logs for the complex.

On September 13th, Jean was honoured at a funeral at the Greenville Avenue Church of Christ in Richardson and he was later buried in Saint Lucia on September 24th. Later that day the Dallas police search warrant revealed the items found in Jean’s apartment including two fired cartridge casings, a laptop, ballistic vest with “police” markings, 10.4 grams of marijuana and a marijuana grinder and also two used packages of medical aid.

Jean’s mother did not take the situation lightly as she boldly expressed her disappointment and criticized the release of the search warrant the day before, stating that her son had been “smeared” and that individuals were covering up for Guyger who she sees as the devil.

Eventually the Jean family filed a federal lawsuit against Guyger and the city of Dallas claiming Guyger used excessive force and as such violated Jean’s constitutional civil rights. On November 26th, a Dallas County grand jury was presented with the evidence against Guyger, according to a law enforcement official who possessed knowledge on the case.

After this event on November 30th, the Dallas County grand jury indicted Guyger on a murder charge after analyzing the evidence they were presented with against her. Thereafter, Guyger turned herself into the Mesquite Jail and was booked on the murder charge however she quickly posted $200,000 bond.

This case however did not reach a dead end just as yet because on January 8th, 2019, State District Judge Tammy Kemp, who was the one in charge of overseeing the Guyger’s murder trial, issued a gag order after the first court date. As such this order would prevent attorneys in on the case and Amber Guyger from making public statements in regards to Jean.

Afterwards on March 18th, Guyger murder trial was set for August 12th, 2019. However on April 1st, Kemp signed an order moving Guyger’s trial from August to September 23rd after her attorneys Robert Rogers and Toby Shook filed a motion seeking a continuance. This delay was as a result of Shook being a lead attorney in a federal trial which was scheduled for the end of July.

On April 19th the recording of the 911 call Guyger made after the shooting was released by the WFAA. The call revealed a very concerned Guyger making comments about, “I’m going to lose my job”. This call led Jean’s mother to further believe that Guyger is the equivalent to a “cold blooded killer” who showed more care towards her career as opposed to the life of a human. Although this case has touched many people’s lives in many different ways, one thing remains the same, the remarkable Botham Jean will forever remain in our hearts and his legacy will always live on.

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