City Of Dallas To Name Street After Botham Jean, Man Shot To Death By Police Officer In His Home
In a unanimous vote, the Dallas City Council approved a measure to name a stretch road after the 26-year-old.
January 14, 2021 at 10:58 pm
The Dallas City Council approved the move on Wednesday and said a four-mile stretch of road on South Lamar Street between Interstate 30 and South Central Expressway will be renamed "Botham Jean Boulevard."
“This street on which he chose to live and the street on which he died can serve as a lasting memory of the upstanding resident who loved Dallas so much. I’m grateful South Lamar is being renamed to Botham Jean Boulevard. But it doesn’t bring my son back,” Allison Jean, his mother, told Dallas News.
“The renaming of Lamar Street in my mind is a gesture to honor Botham and what he meant to the city of Dallas, and the litigation is to seek accountability for what was done to him. It so happens that the city is involved in both. But I don’t see how one connects with the other, and I thought to do so was low,” she continued
Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano introduced the measure last year with two other city council members and South Lamar was chosen because Jean lived in the South Side Flats apartment complex that is on the street.
"Renaming the street in honor of Botham Jean would show the citizens of Dallas that his death was not in vain and show the world his life mattered," the proposal read.
“I’m imploring this council to seriously think about the message we want to send as a city by letting this come up to the point of actually voting on this, having this family participating in this process...and putting that family through any more pain than they’ve been through,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said before the 15-0 vote, according to Dallas News.
Jean was killed in his home by off-duty Dallas officer Amber Guyger on September 6, 2018, who initially told police that she shot Jean because she thought he had broken into her home, according to Fox5. She later claimed the door was somehow already open when she arrived.
Jean was unarmed and eating ice cream as he watched football when Guyger broke into his home and claimed she was scared before she killed him.
Multiple witnesses also disputed Guyger's story, saying they heard her banging on the door and demanding to be let in, according to Dallas News.
One witness said they heard Jean say, "Oh my God, why did you do that," before he died. The witness also said it would be impossible for someone to walk onto the wrong floor considering a large number of steps between each floor and the massive signs showing the floor number, according to ABC News. The witness also said the doors were very heavy and magnetic, so they closed automatically as soon as they were opened.
The Saint Lucia native was a beloved member of his community and worked as an accountant for PricewaterhouseCoopers. After his death, dozens of videos came out of him singing in church, and his fellow church members said he was a devoted member and overall a kind man.
The case drew national scrutiny because Guyger's explanation made little sense.
"There was no other floor mat like this is the entire building. This sticks out, literally, like a red thumb. And she walked up to it and stood on top of it," lead prosecutor Jason Hermus said during closing arguments, according to NPR.
"Self-defense means you're acting defensively. She became the aggressor. That's not self-defense," he added.
Police did not arrest Guyger for days, only arresting her after national outrage grew to unprecedented levels. Prosecutors initially charged her with the relatively minor charge of manslaughter before increasing the charge to murder following even more outrage.
Guyger's court trial also drew significant outrage after a video showed the judge in her trial, court officers and even Jean's own family coddle her throughout.
The judge in the case, a Black woman named Tammy Kemp, also hugged Guyger, prompting accusations that the officer was being given unfair treatment. Kemp even gave Guyger her bible.
"If you truly are sorry — I know I can speak for myself — I forgive you, and I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you," Jean's brother, Brandt Jean, said in court before hugging the officer, according to NBC News.
"I personally want the best for you. I wasn't even going to say this before my family, but I don't even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you, because I know that's exactly what Botham would want you to do — to give your life to Christ," he added.
The embrace outraged many, yet the story was pushed widely among white people who said it was an example of how Black people should respond when their family members are killed by police. Brandt got dozens of interviews with news outlets who promoted his forgiveness of Guyger, causing further outrage among Black communities who were tuned in to the case.
This all came after prosecutors showed Guyger had a long history of abhorrent racism, sharing multiple posts she had online where she spoke gleefully about killing people.
"People are so ungrateful. No one ever thanks me for having the patience not to kill them," she wrote in one comment on Pinterest. They also shared dozens of texts where she said racist things about Black people and insulted Black leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.
Despite her claims that she shot Jean as he lunged at her, forensics showed that he was killed while getting up from his couch or while he was cowering.
Thousands protested in Dallas until the Dallas Police Department fired Guyger for killing Jean.
She was sentenced to 10 years in prison after her murder conviction but appealed the decision last year. In her appeal, her lawyer argued that even though she was wrong about which apartment she went to, she had a right to defend herself and kill him in self-defense, even though he was unarmed and there is no evidence he attacked her, as Blavity previously reported.
"After admitting her crime and asking Botham Jean's family for mercy -- Guyger's actions in filing this appeal reflect someone who is not repentant but instead was hoping to play on the family's sympathies at the time that they were most vulnerable," family lawyer S. Lee Merritt told CNN.
Concern about the case grew further when a witness was killed mysteriously, with police offering strange reasoning for his death.