Dallas News.com:– The mother of Botham Jean demanded Friday that Officer Amber Guyger, whom she called “the devil,” be fired from the Dallas Police Department for fatally shooting her son in his apartment last week.
“Give me justice for my son because he does not deserve what he got,” Allison Jean said, flanked by her attorneys and Dallas activists in the lobby of a downtown Dallas office building. “I will not sit back and see that justice does not prevail.”
Allison Jean denounced law enforcement for releasing a public document Thursday — the day of her son’s funeral — that showed 10.4 grams of marijuana was among the items found in his apartment at the South Side Flats, where he lived one floor above Guyger.
Guyger, 30, told police she went to the wrong floor around 10 p.m. Sept. 6, mistaking her neighbor’s apartment for her own. She says the door was unlocked and ajar when she shot the 26-year-old because she thought he was a burglar.
Jean’s family has said he would not have left the door unlocked, and the grieving mother on Friday condemned any attempts to “assassinate” her son’s character by associating him with drugs.
“The information received yesterday is, to me, worse than the call that I got on the morning of Friday, Sept. 7,” Allison Jean said. “To have my son smeared in such a way, I think shows that the persons who are really nasty, who are really dirty and are going to cover up for the devil, Amber Guyger.”
Guyger was arrested Sunday on a manslaughter charge and was booked into the Kaufman County Jail. The Texas Rangers investigated the case at the request of Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall.
A spokesman for the Rangers declined to comment on the investigation, saying the case was handed over to the Dallas County district attorney’s office on Tuesday.
Attorneys for Jean’s family and legal experts say murder is the appropriate charge. Manslaughter involves a reckless act. But legal experts have said that if Guyger shot and killed Jean because she thought he was a burglar, she intended to shoot him.
Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Jean family said it’s possible that Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson will pursue a murder charge against Guyger.
“I’m confident this district attorney’s office is taking this case seriously,” he said. “They have reassured us that, despite the charge of manslaughter, which we believe is the inappropriate charge, that they are keeping all options open.”
But the family’s attorneys also insisted that Dallas police obtained a search warrant for Jean’s apartment so they could use the marijuana to smear his character.
“Twenty-six years without a blemish and it took being murdered by a white Dallas police officer in his own home to make Botham Jean a criminal,” Merritt said.
Merritt spoke to protesters outside police headquarters. The crowd, upset at the shooting and the information’s release, marched Friday night through soggy downtown Dallas and chanted “lock her up,” among other phrases. Some demonstrators halted traffic on westbound lanes of Interstate 30, a short distance from South Side Flats.
The crowd, which seemed to grow through the night, made several stops over a few hours throughout downtown as protest leaders aired grievances about media coverage and injustice.
Search-warrant affidavits and what was seized are public records obtained through the courts, and in this case the Dallas Police Department returned the document Thursday and a judge immediately made it public at the request of the news media.
Journalists regularly ask for copies of those records as part of their work. The records aren’t only available to the media. The public can also request copies. These records can sometimes be sealed for a time, but that it rare.
Robert Kepple, executive director of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said law enforcement is taught to obtain warrants when they don’t have permission for a search. Botham Jean is the only person who could have consented to a search.
“You want to make sure there’s no question about your right to be there,” Kepple said.
He added that warrants are sought even after first responders have been inside a home to treat the injured and make sure the crime scene is secure.
“It’s common to back out,” put up crime scene tape and then ask for the warrant, he said.
Warrants are typically broad enough, Kepple said, to include any contraband like drugs or illegal weapons.
Law enforcement must also return an itemized list of what was seized with the search warrant. Leaving items off the list could be problematic.
“It’s a transparency thing. It’s a check on the government,” said Kepple, whose nonprofit supports and provides education for Texas prosecutors.
In Jean’s case, the document did not say to whom the marijuana, or any other seized item, belonged.
Allison Jean said she wanted to know whether Guyger’s apartment and car were searched. Guyger’s blood was taken by investigators and Allison Jean demanded the results be made public.
“I’m calling on the Dallas officials,” said Jean, who lives in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia where she was a government official. “Please come clean. Give me justice for my son.”
Authorities have not said whether Guyger’s apartment or car were searched.
Court records released Friday, however, show that an investigator for the district attorney’s office obtained a search warrant to seize Guyger’s front door, the electronic lock and data inside the electronic lock.
The data could show when Guyger’s front door was locked and unlocked, indicating whether she went home before going to Jean’s apartment.
Court records also show the investigator obtained search warrants and seized the lock for Jean’s door and downloaded its data. The data from Jean’s lock could show whether his door was locked or shut.
He took photos and video of Jean’s apartment and used a laser to determine the trajectory of the bullets fired by Guyger. He also collected gunshot residue from the door frame and the kitchen wall.
The underlying affidavit outlining probable cause for the warrant was sealed by state District Judge Brandon Birmingham.
No warrants for her car or inside Guyger’s apartment have been released, but such a warrant would not be necessary if she consented to a search.
Merritt, an attorney for the Jean family, said the Dallas Police Department tainted the investigation before handing it off to the Texas Rangers.
Now he said he’s “lost faith in the Dallas Police Department and their investigators,” as well as the Texas Rangers.
Neither agency responded to a request to address the criticism.
The Texas Rangers were partially brought in to help build public trust, but Jean’s family and others have said there are still too few answers.
Mayor Mike Rawlings said Friday during a Downtown Dallas, Inc. event that the police chief “courageously made the right decisions” in the case and that the city’s residents “should all stand with her.”
The mayor also said he was “disturbed today by those who try to besmirch” Jean’s reputation and that the city needed more residents like him.
“Shame on you,” he said. “Stop it.”
Few close to Guyger have said much publicly about the officer. But Guyger’s sister Alana Guyger said Friday in a written statement to The Dallas Morning News that her sister is “caring, loving and compassionate.”
“All she wanted to do is serve and protect, which is why she became an officer, never to harm,” said the statement. “That is something you must understand.”
Chief Hall has placed Amber Guyger, who has been with the department nearly five years, on paid administrative leave.
Another attorney for the Jean family, Daryl Washington, said “there is no question this officer should have been terminated.”
The attorneys also demanded that Hall investigate whether any officer shared unauthorized information about the investigation with the media.
Staff writers Tasha Tsiaperas and Charles Scudder, city columnist Robert Wilonsky and research editor Erin Sood contributed to this report.