A Dallas County grand jury indicted three men on capital murder charges for the killing of Joshua Brown, a key witness in the trial of former Dallas Police officer Amber Guyger, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in October for fatally shooting her neighbor Botham Jean.
Brown was fatally shot just 10 days after testifying at the trial—leading many to believe his killing was retaliatory.
But Dallas police say Brown was killed because of a drug deal gone awry. Last Thursday, a grand jury handed down indictments against Thaddeous Charles Green, 22, Michael Diaz Mitchell, 32, and Jacquerious Mitchell, 20, reports the Dallas Morning News. The charges weren’t made public until this week.
The rift between what the police say and what the public believes, however, is not likely to go away anytime soon.
According to the police, Green and the Mitchells (who are uncle and nephew) drove 300 miles from Alexandria, La., to Dallas to buy drugs from Brown on Oct. 4—it’s unclear whether their plans were to stay in Dallas afterward. However, shortly after meeting the three men in the parking lot of his apartment complex, Brown and Green began arguing. Once Jacquerious Mitchell got involved, Brown shot him in the chest, Mitchell later told police. Jacquerious returned fire, hitting Brown in his lower body. The indictments say the trio attempted to rob Brown, reports CNN, taking Brown’s gun and backpack before driving off.
Jacquerious Mitchell was dropped off at a hospital and was later arrested. U.S. Marshals apprehended Michael Diaz Mitchell in Louisiana days later. The Mitchells are being held on $500,000 bail each in the Dallas County Jail.
Green remains at large.
Police also reported recovering 12 pounds of marijuana, 143 grams of THC cartridges, and $4,000 in cash from Brown’s apartment after the shooting.
Brown’s death hit Dallas—already raw from the emotions of the Guyger trial—hard. As the Washington Post notes, Brown played a crucial role in undermining Guyger’s account of what happened the night she killed Jean, a 26-year-old accountant. Guyger claimed, after mistaking Jean’s apartment for her own, that she demanded Jean, who was unarmed, to put his hands up, only shooting him after he didn’t follow her commands.
But Brown, who said he overheard Guyger’s confrontation with Jean, said he never heard such commands being given. At one point during his testimony, Brown broke down in tears; he met Jean for the first time the morning of the shooting, but often heard him singing Drake and gospel songs in his apartment.
As the Post reports, Brown spent much of his life in Florida, graduating from the University of South Florida, where he played football. Afterward, he moved to Dallas (where he had graduated high school) and ran a company that managed Airbnb rentals.
Brown moved out of the South Side Flats apartment complex he shared with Jean and Guyger three months after Jeans’ murder.
Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing the Jean family in a civil case, called for an independent investigation into Brown’s death.
“However plausible or implausible their involvement in the murder of Joshua Brown may be, a cloud of suspicion lingers over this investigation,” Merritt told the Post. “A neutral party would have helped to remedy this well-settled distrust.”