An attorney representing the family of slain PwC associate Botham Jean says now is the time to put pressure on authorities amid the pending status of a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Dallas.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma Carrillo Ramirez recommended in August that the city be dropped from the civil lawsuit regarding ex-Dallas police officer Amber Guyger‘s actions Sept. 6, 2018.
She has said on that day, she thought she was walking into her own unit when she suspected Jean was an intruder, entered his apartment and fatally shot him.
Although Guyger was in her uniform and worked for the police department at the time, Ramirez wrote in her opinion that Guyger was off duty during Jean’s death.
Attorney Daryl Washington, who is representing the Jean family, however, told Atlanta Black Star Monday the law maintains that the moment Guyger suspected a crime was committed, she was legally called back onto duty.
“It has always been our position that Amber Guyger was on duty,” he said.
Washington added it would be “totally awful in situations like this” to “simply release the city from liability when there’s an officer that takes the life of someone.”
The Jean family claims in the lawsuit that the city of Dallas is liable because Guyger’s conduct is indicative of a pattern of improper training that led to the deaths of several unarmed individuals.
Ramirez said in her recommendation, which Fox 4 obtained a copy of:
“Although the cases cited…involved shootings of unarmed minority individuals…they are not ‘fairly similar’ to Jean’s shooting…none of these cases involved an off-duty officer approaching what he or she believed to be a burglary taking place in his or her own home.”
Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison Oct. 2, and since then, many activists and social media users have critiqued the sentence and trial as unfairly lenient, considering Guyger was convicted of murder.
“Just like police officers get special treatment,” Washington said, “municipalities also get special treatment that other organizations would not get if one of their employees kills somebody.”
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn, who will decide the fate of the civil suit, suspended the case on Sept. 23 in consideration of Guyger’s criminal trial, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Now that she has been sentenced, the district judge is expected to lift the stay and review the magistrate’s recommendation.
That could happen any day, Washington said. He has filed an objection to the recommendation.