Key Witness Joshua Brown Shot Dead after Guyer Sentencing
By Airielle Lowe
On Sept. 6, 2018, 26-year-old Botham Jean was shot and killed in his own apartment by Amber Guyger, an off-duty police officer living in the same building who claimed she didn’t realize she had entered the wrong apartment that night. Thinking Jean was an intruder, Guyger stated that she fired her weapon at the “large silhouette” after yelling out verbal commands. Following the shooting, the case was met with suspicion from the public and Jean’s family.
In a lawsuit filed by the Jean family against the city of Dallas, the family questioned how Guyger could have missed the red mat in front of Jean’s door—a red mat that Guyger didn’t have in front of her own door—or how she didn’t notice the door was slightly open, that she was on the wrong floor and that unlike the door in her apartment, the door to Jean’s apartment did not chime when she entered.
Since the incident was first publicized, it has provoked a variety of questions and demands from the public as to how Guyger couldn’t have noticed she was in the wrong apartment, and why the incident turned deadly as quickly as it did despite Jean being unarmed.
Following the death of Botham Jean, Amber Guyger was fired in September of 2018, and later indicted on murder chargers by a grand jury.
It is a Friday night in Dallas when police find themselves racing through the streets in response to gunshots fired at the Atera Apartments. Witnesses flagged down the officers on duty at the time, leading them to the parking lot in which a young African-American man was lying down, having been shot at close range in his mouth and chest‒fatal wounds that led to his death at the hospital.
That man’s name was Joshua Brown. He was the neighbor of Botham Jean and had testified as a key witness at the murder trial of Amber Guyger just 10 days prior to his own murder.
During the trial, Brown testified that he heard “two people meeting by surprise” before hearing two gunshots go off. He then testified to seeing Guyger leave the apartment on the phone, “crying and explaining what she thought happened and saying she came into the wrong apartment.”
The sudden death of Joshua Brown has left some people suspecting foul play; Dallas police are currently investigating the shooting.
Another witness who asked to be identified as “Bunny” filmed the aftermath of Jean’s murder in a short video, where Guyger could be seen pacing back and forth on the phone before several police officers are seen arriving on the scene. Though initially hesitant on uploading the video, Bunny stated in an interview with the African Diaspora News Channel that it was only after seeing Guyger’s testimony in which her statement was not aligning with what Bunny herself had seen, that she chose to release the contents of the film.
According to Bunny, Texas police had previously shown up to her place of residence once a day every day for about two weeks after the incident, asking repetitive questions.
“I did get a feeling that they were trying to get me to give a different answer and pressure me to say something differently,” said Bunny.
She has since been fired from her job at a pharmaceutical company, had her credentials stripped and received death threats following the release of her video.
On Oct. 2, Guyger was sentenced to 10 years for the murder of Jean Botham; two jurors later admitted in a public interview on Good Morning America that they just simply could not bring themselves to implement a harsher punishment because they believed the shooting was a mistake. Many of the jurors believed that Jean, being a devout Christian, would not want a harsh sentence for his attacker.
After the sentence was read, Botham Jean’s younger brother, Brandt Jean, publicly forgave Guyger and gave her a hug. His act of mercy was the subject of debate by many people on social media claiming they would have handled it differently. However, that moment in the courtroom gave some jurors a sense of relief as one juror stated, “It kind of helped us feel like we ended up with the right decision.”