The family of Botham Jean, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by an off-duty Dallas police officer after she intruded into his home, plans to sue the officer and the city of Dallas for his death.
According to the Dallas Morning news, family attorney Lee Merritt said Allison and Bertrum Jean plan to file a federal lawsuit against Amber Guyger, the white former Dallas police officer who killed their son, for using excessive force. They are also naming the city of Dallas as a defendant in the suit because Guyger was “under the color of state authority” when she fatally shot Jean.
“She is in uniform, she was wearing a badge, she purports to give commands, which he allegedly failed to comply to,” Merritt told the Morning News. “Clocking in or clocking out has no bearing on that analysis.”
Since the shooting at the South Side Flats apartments on Sept. 6, there have been conflicting details in Guyger’s story and those told by witnesses at the apartment complex, Merritt says.
Guyger has been charged with the manslaughter for Jean’s death; on Monday, Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall fired Guyger—her termination was announced on the Dallas PD’s official Twitter account.
Key details have changed in Guyger’s story, specifically between what was stated in the arrest warrant and search warrant affidavits, the family says. The search warrant says that Guyger, after a long shift, parked on the wrong floor, mistook Jean’s apartment for hers (he lived in the unit directly below hers) and was attempting to get in when he opened the door. According to Vox, the warrant said, “a neighbor stated he heard an exchange of words, immediately followed by at least two gunshots.” As Vox notes, this would mean Jean was shot at his front door.
But Guyger’s story in the arrest warrant drafted two days later differs. In that version, after Guyger mistook Jean’s apartment for hers, she was able to enter into the unit because the door was left slightly ajar. The Dallas Morning News reports that when Guyger intruded into Jean’s apartment, the 26-year-old St. Lucia native was watching football on his couch, eating cereal and texting a friend. But, according to the arrest warrant, Vox writes, Guyger says it was so dark that she saw only Jean’s silhouette, and after issuing verbal commands she fired her service weapon twice at him, hitting Jean in the chest.
She didn’t realize her mistake, she claims, until the lights were on.
Both stories conflict with accounts given to Merritt, who says neighbors told him they heard knocking on a door and a voice saying “let me in” around the time of the shooting.
Guyger is currently out on bail as the investigation continues. Jean was laid to rest in St. Lucia on Monday.