The family of Botham Jean, the Black man fatally shot by a Dallas police officer in his own apartment earlier this month, say they plan to sue the city of Dallas and fired Officer Amber Guyger for his tragic death.
Attorney Lee Merritt announced Wednesday that Allison and Bertrum Jean plan to file a federal lawsuit accusing Guyger, who was off-duty at the time, of excessive force, The Dallas Morning News reported. The city will also be named in the lawsuit, Merritt said, because Guyger was acting “under the color of state authority” even though she wasn’t on the clock.
“She was in uniform, she was wearing a badge, she purports to give commands, which he allegedly failed to comply to,” the attorney said. “Clocking in or clocking out has no bearing on that analysis.”
Dallas police fired Guyger on Monday, more than two weeks after she barged into Jean’s apartment Sept. 6 and opened fire on her unsuspecting neighbor. The officer claimed she mistakenly parked her car on the wrong floor of the parking garage then walked into the apartment directly above hers, thinking it was her own.
Guyger claimed the door was “ajar” when she arrived and recalled seeing a “silhouette” in what she thought was her apartment. Believing Jean was an intruder, the then-officer said she gave verbal commands, which the man ignored, before firing two shots inside the dark apartment. It wasn’t until she flipped the lights on that she said she realized her mistake.
Jean, 26, was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Police charged Guyger with manslaughter three days after the shooting, but some parties have called for more serious charges. Guyger was released on bond not long after turning herself in and remains free as she awaits trial, according to the newspaper.
Jean’s family and lawyers question Guyger’s story, however, and pointed to discrepancies in her account of what happened the night of the shooting. Merritt initially said he didn’t think Guyger went to Jean’s apartment by accident but that he didn’t have a theory about what may have happened.
“The only connection we have been able to make is that she was his immediate downstairs neighbor,” Merritt told CNN earlier this month. “And there were noise complaints from the immediate downstairs neighbors about whoever was upstairs — and that would have been Botham.”
On Monday, Jean’s family buried their loved one in his native St. Lucia, where mourners continue to demand justice in his death.