This image from video released Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, by the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office in Kaufman, Texas, shows Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger get booked after turning himself on Sunday, Sept. 9 after the fatal shooting of Botham Jean in his own apartment. Guyger was arrested manslaughter and has been released on bond. (Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office Jail via AP)
DALLAS – Attorneys for the family of a black man who was killed in his own apartment by a white police officer accused Dallas police of trying to “assassinate his character” and expressed anger that authorities sought a search warrant that resulted in the discovery of marijuana in the victim’s apartment.
During a press conference Friday, the lawyers said the search warrant, allowing researchers to look for drugs, would never have been issued.
They also called for the firing of police officer Amber Guyger, who shot 26-year-old Botham Jean in his own apartment on Sept. 6. She has been booked on a preliminary charge of manslaughter and is free on bond.
Guyger told the researchers that they mistook Jean’s apartment for her own, that below and at the conclusion of the dark house, she believed she had encountered an intruder and shot him when he did not obey her verbal commands.
Lee Merritt, one of the family, Jean’s lawyers, said Friday that the researchers wasted no time in digging for dirt that they can use to smear Jean’s name. Within hours of Jean shot, they asked a judge for a warrant to search his house for drugs, among other things.
“On the night he was killed, the Dallas Police Department, investigators were interested specifically in finding information which can help to kill of his character,” Merritt said.
Dallas police didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the criticism.
Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, expressed disgust that on Thursday the results of the search of his house turned up. They showed that, among the things the police found a small amount of marijuana — 10.4 grams and a marijuana grinder. The news came on the same day that mourners at her son’s funeral, remembered him for his religious beliefs, and kindness.
“My son smeared in such a way that I think shows that there are (people) that are really ugly, those are really dirty and the cover for the devil in Amber Guyger,” she said.
They called the police for the release of toxicology results of a blood sample taken from Guyger on the night of the shooting. She said that she did not understand why Guyger was allowed to “roam the streets for three days” after the killing of her son. Guyger shot Jean on Thursday evening and was arrested on Sunday.
The local Fox television affiliate, KDFW, was roundly criticized for its initial reporting on the release of the report on the search of the findings, the signs of contempt of the figures across the political spectrum to focus on the marijuana, tweeting: “the DEVELOPMENT of: search warrant: Marijuana found in Botham Jean apartment after the deadly shooting.”
On Twitter, the ACLU called the tweet an “attack on an innocent man.”
Fox News contributor Guy Benson comments on Twitter, “are Irrelevant. 100% not relevant.”
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch tweeted: “How is this relevant to what happened?”
KDFW, which later updated its story and added more context, declined to comment on Friday about the first coverage of the search affidavit.
At his funeral, Jean was described as a talented and driven man, who entrusted to his uncle that he would want to be prime minister of his own island in the Caribbean country of St. Lucia one day.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall were among those who participated in the hymn-filled funeral. Rawlings has described Jean as a young professional, and the man of faith who was “exactly the kind of citizen we want.”
In Texas, being caught with that amount of marijuana is a class B misdemeanor punishable for up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Court documents obtained Friday revealed that a researcher from the Dallas County district attorney’s office seized the electronic lock on the door to Guyger’s apartment and of the data downloaded from the lock.
Merritt, one of the family, Jean’s lawyers, said Dallas police would never have issued the search warrant to look for drugs at Jean’s apartment.
In a statement, Kali Cohn, staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas, said they are “extremely concerned” by the search warrant, and called on the department to offer a statement. The warrant, she said, was in the best case, a broad search without cause.
“In the worst case, it is an attempt to improperly prejudice the investigation, and the slandering of Mr Jean after his death,” the statement said.
However, Texas District and County Attorneys Association executive director Rob Kepple said Friday that it received a search warrant is considered a best practice. He said that a search warrant can help avoid a situation where there is a question whether investigators had the authority to search a residence.
“What they did here is absolutely typical,” Kepple said.
After the reading of the declaration, association staff attorney Shannon Edmonds said the documents indicate the police knew what was in the apartment before she asked the judge to search the residence.
Edmonds said the warrant does not indicate who the items belong to or how, if all these items were involved in the crime.