The tragic murder of Botham Shem Jean by off-duty police officer Amber Renee Guyger, who entered his home by mistake is roiling the city of Dallas, Texas.
Guyger was arrested on Sunday, Sept. 9, and faces a charge of manslaughter for killing 26-year-old Jean in his home.
So far the media and law enforcement are pushing a narrative that is making many in the public wonder if justice will prevail.
There are three main narratives that are coming out regarding what happened the night of the shooting. They are as follows:
Guyger went to Jean’s door and tried her key, but it wouldn’t fit. She placed her bags on the ground and attempted to open the door again. That’s when Jean opened the door surprising her, and she shot him.
Guyger took her key out to open the door, noticed it was ajar and entered the dark apartment. She saw Jean inside, issued verbal commands, and when he did not comply, she was forced to shoot him.
Witnesses stated they heard a banging and then a female voice yell, “Let me in! Let me in!” The yelling was followed by a single gunshot. Then a witness heard a male voice state, “Oh my God. Why did you do that?”
Rolling out spoke to the Lee Merritt, the attorney for Jean’s family, to get his thoughts about the prevailing narratives and other concerns about the case.
Can you shed any light on which of these narratives presented are close to the truth?
No, we really cannot, and I must point out something that’s troubling. The first two narratives you gave have come from statements that Amber Guyger gave to investigators and to the Texas Rangers, and they are contradictory. I have a real issue with the Texas Rangers’ statement that has been released because in the past they have shown a bias towards law enforcement to minimize law enforcement accountability. They have made the statement that the murder of Botham Shem Jean was a simple tragic accident with no malice. The third narrative you have referenced comes from witness statements.
The family does not know what happened that night, but what we do know is that, based on statements made and physical evidence gathered, that Guyger’s statements are, in our opinion, demonstrably untrue.
If Amber Renee Guyger is convicted of her current charge, what is the maximum jail time?
A manslaughter charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years. However, we are confident we are going to get a murder conviction, not manslaughter.
Will the family file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Yes, the family intends to file.
When it comes to killing an unarmed Black man, the police have a series of standard excuses. What does the familiar police excuse that “he failed to obey my verbal orders” trigger in your mind as an attorney?
As an attorney, it is an excuse I have heard far too many times from police to excuse a police shooting. At the point that Officer Guyger made the decision to investigate the apartment, she became an acting law enforcement officer. But here’s the thing: Her excuse that Jean failed to follow her verbal commands is not justification to shoot him. It did not give her the authority to kill. In any case, it still would be murder. She has no justification. None.
What would you like to say to our readers in closing?
I believe we will get a conviction of murder in the case of Amber Renee Guyger. Recently, the charges against the officer who killed Jordan Edward, 15, when he fired into a car marked a 50-year end to police killing and not getting a murder charge. Both Edward and Botham Shem Jean represent something tragic that law enforcement has to deal with, which I call the perfect victim. Neither of them was doing anything wrong, nor did they ever have a criminal record, yet they lost their lives to a cop. Even with Botham Jean, as we look at his life, police found nothing in his house or a criminal record. He was a victim without blemish. But not only was Botham Jean the perfect victim, he was also in the perfect set-up — at home relaxing in his underwear at peace.
This will hopefully make law enforcement introspective and make them look at this disease, which is their own internal disease when it comes to policing, and not at the community which has become a victim of this malignancy.