Dallas officer in wrong apartment fatally shoots neighbor
DALLAS (AP) — Authorities are seeking a manslaughter warrant for a Dallas police officer who shot and killed a neighbor after she said she mistook his apartment for her own, police said Friday.
It was not clear what the officer may have said to 26-year-old Botham Jean after entering his home late Thursday. But given what investigators currently know about the case, they decided to pursue a manslaughter case, police said.
“Right now, there are more questions than we have answers,” Police Chief U. Renee Hall said at a news conference Friday afternoon. She said she spoke to Jean’s sister to express condolences to the family.
It was also unclear if the officer was in custody. Hall said she did not know the whereabouts of the officer, whose name was not released.
According to police, the officer returned home in her uniform after her shift. She called dispatch to report that she had shot a man, and she later told the officers who responded that she believed the victim’s apartment was her own when she entered it.
The responding officers administered first aid to Jean, a native of the Caribbean country of St. Lucia who attended college in Arkansas and worked for accounting and consulting firm PwC. Jean was taken to a hospital, where he died.
Hall said the officer’s blood was drawn to be tested for drugs and alcohol. She declined to speculate as to whether fatigue or other factors may have factored into the shooting. She also said the Texas Rangers will conduct an independent investigation.
Jean grew up in St. Lucia and attended Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, where he majored in accounting and information systems and often led campus worship services before graduating in 2016, the school said in a statement. That July, he went to work for PwC in risk assurance. The company in a statement that it was “simply heartbroken to hear of his death.”
Family and friends described Jean as a devout Christian and a talented singer. His uncle Ignatius Jean said the slaying left relatives devastated and looking for answers.
“You want to think it’s fiction ... and you have to grapple with the reality,” he said.
He called Jean a “brilliant” man of “impeccable character” and said news of his death had rippled across the small island nation of St. Lucia.
“Botham was in the prime of his life,” his uncle said.
Nathan Monan, a friend from Harding University, said Botham Jean was kind to everybody and would often lead people in song during chapel at the private university in Arkansas.
“He lived what he spoke,” Monan said, adding that Jean’s death has stirred emotions of overwhelming sadness and anger. “This doesn’t make sense to anybody right now.”
A YouTube video posted in 2014 shows Jean making his pitch to become the university’s student association president.
“I want to serve,” he says in the video. “My Harding experience has really inspired me to want to serve and I want every student at Harding to have the best Harding experience possible.”
Authorities have not said how the officer got into Jean’s home, or whether his door was open or unlocked. The apartment complex is just a few blocks from Dallas police headquarters.
Residents of the complex said they can access their units with a key or through a keypad code.
Jeffrey Scherzer, who lives there, said when he returned home after the shooting, an officer escorted him to his apartment and warned him to steer clear of a blood trail.
Two women who live on the second floor near where the shooting happened said they heard a lot of noise late Thursday.
“It was, like, police talk: ‘Open up! Open up!’” Caitlin Simpson, 20, told The Dallas Morning News.
Yazmine Hernandez, 20, was studying with Simpson when they heard the commotion.
“We heard cops yelling, but otherwise had no idea what was going on,” Hernandez said.
Attorney Lee Merritt, who has been involved with high-profile cases in North Texas, said Friday the officer should have already been arrested, like any other person in a similar situation.
Associated Press writers Jamie Stengle and David Warren contributed to this report.
For the latest information about the shooting: https://www.apnews.com/5418f50edde448e79f16be75178bea6a .