Lawyers for the family of the late Botham Shem Jean have filed a notice of claim to the City of Dallas, putting the City on notice that they intend to file a civil rights lawsuit for excessive force.
Jean was shot dead in his own apartment by Dallas Police Officer, Amber Guyger, on September 6, 2018.
It was reported that she mistook his apartment for hers.
Jean family Attorney, Lee Meritt, told St Lucia Times that as representatives of the family, the lawyers they have hired are primarily concerned with criminal accountability.
But he said that civil accountability is important for the City of Dallas to ensure that “this kind of thing never happens again” and for other people who play contributory roles to be held responsible.
Meritt said that Dallas County and the Texas area generally are not used to paying large sums in compensation to victims of brutality in wrongful death suits and so there is no benchmark available.
“We have not and it is not our practice to name a specific dollar amount. We find the process very demeaning for a family. However, we can say that we are not looking to resolve this anywhere close to what the City has resolved similar claims for. In other words, the City will have to offer a record breaking settlement in order to resolve this case,” Meritt told St Lucia Times.
“It is difficult to put a price on the life of someone like Botham Jean or anyone. Ultimately that will be determined by a jury,” he explained.
According to the Attorney at Law, the City of Dallas has received the notice of the lawsuit and has presented the same to the City Council and started to discuss whether or not they will take responsibility for the actions of Amber Guyger.
He disclosed that a response has not yet been received.
In terms of the criminal aspect of the case, Meritt said the District Attorney has not presented the matter to the Grand Jury up to this point.
“From our conversations, they are in the process of gathering critical evidence and still speaking with witnesses as well as serving subpoenas and performing the proper investigative steps- be it forensic or reconstruction, etc,” he stated.
“They are still not 100 percent sure what has happened. But they are moving closer to an understanding and they need that critical narrative before they can present to the Grand Jury.”
Meritt said the Jean family lawyers are still confident that the District Attorney’s Office is pursuing this case with all due diligence.
However, he revealed that both the attorneys and the family are still frustrated at the lack of progress.
Meritt told St Lucia Times that the preference was not to place the civil lawsuit ahead of the grand jury indictment, which is expected to be for murder, for a lot of important reasons.
“We will be revealing facts in the lawsuit that we believe to be the key narrative about what happened and we don’t want that revelation process to impact the Grand Jury process. We also want to put first things first,” he explained.