Calling Dallas officer ‘the devil,’ Botham Jean’s mother urges police to ‘come clean’
DALLAS — The mother of Botham Jean demanded Friday that Officer Amber Guyger, whom she called “the devil,” be fired from the Dallas Police Department for fatally shooting her son in his apartment.
“Give me justice for my son because he does not deserve what he got,” Allison Jean said, flanked by her attorneys and Dallas activists in the lobby of a downtown Dallas office building. “I will not sit back and see that justice does not prevail.”
Allison Jean denounced law enforcement for releasing a public document Thursday, the day of her son’s funeral, that showed 10.4 grams of marijuana was found in his apartment at the South Side Flats where he lived one floor above Guyger.
Guyger, 30, told police she went to the wrong floor around 10 p.m. on Sept. 6, mistaking her upstairs neighbor’s apartment for her own. She says she shot the 26-year-old because she thought he was a burglar and that the door was unlocked and ajar.
Jean’s family has said he would not have left the door unlocked, and the grieving mother condemned any attempts to “assassinate” her son’s character by associating him with drugs.
“The information received yesterday, to me, was worse than the call that I got on the morning of Friday, Sept. 7,” Allison Jean said. “To have my son smeared in such a way, I think shows that the persons who are really nasty, who are really dirty and are going to cover up for the devil, Amber Guyger.”
Guyger was arrested Sunday on a manslaughter charge and was booked into the Kaufman County Jail. The Texas Rangers investigated the case at the request of Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall.
A spokesman for the Rangers declined to comment on the investigation, saying the case was handed over to the Dallas County district attorney’s office Tuesday.
Attorneys for Jean’s family and legal experts say murder is the more appropriate charge. Manslaughter involves a reckless act. But legal experts have said that if Guyger shot and killed Jean because she thought he was a burglar, she intended to shoot him.
The family’s attorneys also insist that Dallas police obtained a search warrant for Jean’s apartment so they could use the marijuana to smear his character.
“Twenty-six years without a blemish and it took being murdered by a white Dallas police officer in his own home to make Botham Jean a criminal,” said Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Jean family.
Robert Kepple, executive director of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said law enforcement is taught to obtain warrants when they don’t have permission for a search. Botham Jean is the only person who could have consented to a search.
“You want to make sure there’s no question about your right to be there,” Kepple said.
Warrants are sought even after first responders have already been inside to treat the injured and make sure the crime scene is secure.
“It’s common to back out,” put up crime scene tape and then ask for the warrant, he said.
Warrants are typically broad enough, Kepple said, to include any contraband like drugs or illegal weapons.
Law enforcement must also return an itemized list of what was seized with the search warrant. Leaving items off the list could be problematic.
“It’s a transparency thing. It’s a check on the government,” said Kepple, whose nonprofit supports and provides education for Texas prosecutors.
Search warrant affidavits and what was seized are public records. Journalists regularly ask for copies of those records as part of their work. The records aren’t only available to the media. The public can also request copies. These records can sometimes be sealed for a time, but that it rare.
Allison Jean said she wants to know whether Guyger’s apartment and car were searched. Guyger’s blood was taken by investigators and Allison Jean demanded the results be made public.
“I’m calling on the Dallas officials,” said Allison Jean, who lives in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia where she was a government official. “Please come clean. Give me justice for my son.”
Authorities have not said whether Guyger’s apartment or car were searched.
Court records released Friday, however, show that an investigator for the district attorney’s office obtained a search warrant to seize Guyger’s front door, the electronic lock and data inside the electronic lock.
The data could potentially show when Guyger’s front door was locked and unlocked, indicating whether she went home before going to Jean’s apartment.
The underlying affidavit outlining probable cause for the warrant was sealed by state District Judge Brandon Birmingham.
No warrants for her car or inside her apartment have been released, but such a warrant would not be necessary if she consented to a search.
Merritt, an attorney for the Jean family, said the Dallas Police Department tainted the investigation before handing it off to the Texas Rangers. But, he said, he believes it’s possible that Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson will pursue a murder charge against Guyger.
“I’m confident this district attorney’s office is taking this case seriously,” he said. “They have reassured us that, despite the charge of manslaughter, which we believe is the inappropriate charge, that they are keeping all options open.”
But, he said, “I’ve lost faith in the Dallas Police Department and their investigators. I’ve lost faith in the Texas Rangers.”
Another attorney for the family, Darryl Washington, said “there is no question this officer should have been terminated.”
Hall has placed Guyger, who has been with the department nearly five years, on paid administrative leave.