Illustration for article titled Family, Mourners Remember the Life of Botham Shem Jean, Killed in His Own Home by a Dallas Cop
Photo: Jeff Montgomery (Harding University)

As the circumstances surrounding Botham Shem Jean’s shooting death remain cloudy, mourners gathered yesterday to pay tribute to the 26-year-old Caribbean native who was gunned down in his own home by a uniformed Dallas police officer on Thursday night. The cop, who remains unidentified, was off-duty at the time of the shooting, and claims she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own.


Mourners from Jean’s native St. Lucia to Dallas shared their grief and posted tributes to the young man, whom friends and family remember for his beautiful voice and “wonderful spirit.”


As the Dallas News reports, an hour-long vigil was held for Jean outside Dallas police headquarters on Friday; an estimated 15o people were in attendance. Among them were Mothers Against Police Brutality and protesters, who held up signs imploring “Where is justice when police kill us?” “Disarm off duty police,” and “Life is not a white privilege.”

Members of Dallas West Church of Christ, where Jean worshipped and was a Bible Study leader, were also in attendance.

“He had a wonderful spirit, and we’ll miss him” Rena Williams, a fellow member of the church, told the Dallas news.

Jean, who worked at the accounting firm PriceWaterHouseCoopers, moved to the U.S. to attend Harding University in Arkansas, where he graduated in 2016. His mother, Allison Jean, a senior official at St. Lucia’s Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, told NBC News that Jean was an excellent student in high school.


The New York Times reports that Jean was a member of the “Good News Singers” at Harding. “With a booming, soulful voice, Mr. Jean often led the group in songs,” the paper writes.

The University posted a tribute to Jean on its Facebook page, asking the campus community to join in praying for Jean’s friends and family, “and for all who were touched by his extraordinary life.”


Jean’s uncle, Earl Jean, also posted a tribute on Facebook.

“My heart goes with you my can this nasty world take you away from me,” Earl wrote, alongside pictures of him and his nephew. “Uncle loves you so much.”


In conversation with NBC News, Jean’s mother said she and her son talked frequently, so she thought it was strange when he didn’t call on Thursday night.


“It just still feels like a nightmare,” she said. “I wish I would wake up and find that it wasn’t true.”

Allison Jean, who, according to the Times, is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment, also mentioned that the circumstances of her son’s death made no sense to her—a sentiment shared by many.


Speaking to NBC about the cop who killed her son, Allison Jean said, “I need to look into her eyes and ask her why she did that to my son. She took away my heart, she took away my soul, she took away everything.”

“[He] was in no wrong place at any wrong time. He was in his sanctuary, in the place where he called home. He didn’t deserve this.”


According to the Times, the officer who shot Jean is not in custody. Dallas Police are reportedly seeking a manslaughter charge against the officer.

Staff writer, The Root.

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